Rhino killed, guards kill poacher

Guwahati, A one-horned rhino was killed in Assam's Kaziranga National Park Sunday after which forest guards gunned down one of the poachers and recovered the horn.

"Forest guards launched an operation after hearing a gun shot from the park early in the morning," park director M.K. Yadav said.

"They saw the poachers who were trying to escape. In the ensuing firing from both sides, one poacher was killed while the rest escaped," Yadav said.

He added the guards recovered the rhino horn from the slain poacher.

This is the 18th rhino killed this year at the Kaziranga National Park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Officials say poachers killed another rhino May 2 and escaped with its horn.

Besides killing 18 rhinos in Kaziranga, poachers have also killed two rhinos elsehwere in Assam this year -- one each at Manas National Park and Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary.

Last year, poachers killed over 40 rhinos in Assam, mostly in the Kaziranga National Park.

The Assam government recently floated a proposal to de-horn some rhinos to protect the animal from poaching.

The proposal drew criticism from various quarters, including conservationists, with most of them saying this amounted to cruelty and an insult to the rhino, Assam's state animal.

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