Police track route of poachers transporting rhino horns

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GUWAHATI, September 6: Police and security agencies have managed to track the route used by the gangs of poachers to transport rhino horns up to Myanmar and it is interesting to note that in most cases, Dimapur is the first point of financial transaction. Though it is widely believed that the horns of the rhinos killed in Kaziranga National Park ultimately end up in China where there is a heavy demand for rhino horns, the investigations so far traced the movement up to Myanmar and it is very much possible that the rhino horns are taken to China via Myanmar.
Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that in majority of the cases, Dimapur is the first point of financial transactions and for one kilogram of rhino horn, an amount of around Rs 65 lakh is earned by the poachers. The second point of transaction is near the India-Myanmar border where an amount of up to Rs 1.20 crore is paid for every kilogram of rhino horn. On several occasions, hotels and other hideouts of the gangs were raided in Dimapur, which led to the arrests of several persons involved in the clandestine trade. But such arrests or neutralization of poachers either by the Forest Department personnel or police failed to deter the gangs from operating in the National Park because of the huge amount of money involved.
Because of the huge amount of money involved, the poachers make all out efforts to kill rhinos and there were instances when the groups kept on trying their luck even after killing of members of the gangs. In one such instance, a gang had to retreat to Karbi Anglong after one of their members were killed, but the other members, instead of escaping, camped in a hideout in the hill district for days waiting for an opportunity to enter the National Park again.
In majority of the cases, the poachers use 303 rifles because it is easier to bring down a rhino in one shot with that rifle and they used AK series rifles for self defence against police and Forest Personnel. But in recent times, the poachers even used AK series rifles to kill rhinos. The gangs of poachers use local people as guides and pay them between Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 each , which is substantial amount for villagers. Such people, who grew up in the vicinity of the National Park, know the routes inside the Park and they can lead gangs of poachers into the areas where it is comparatively safer for them to target rhinos.
In recent times, Nagaon police launched a number of successful operations against poachers, which led to the killing of two poachers and arrests of several others. Recently, a four member gang of Manipur based poachers were arrested from the Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT) in Guwahati by Nagaon police when they were trying to board a bus to Manipur. The arrest of the gang led to the recovery of a cache of sophisticated arms and ammunition, buried in the jungles of Karbi Anglong. This proved that the gang was planning to return to Kaziranga again. However, the kingpin of the gang managed to escape with the rhino horn.
Commenting on the incident, Nagaon Superintendent of Police, Sankarbrata Rai Medhi said, “the arrested poachers were on their way to Churachandpur in Manipur, which proved the Churachandpur angle in poaching, which we had been suspecting for a long time.” (Courtesy: AT)