Baby Rhino Calf With Its Mother
Aerial surveillance drones are being flown at an Indian nature reserve to protect rare rhinoceros from increasing attacks by poachers.
The unmanned aerial vehicle, equipped with powerful cameras, was operated for the first time at the Kaziranga National Park in the north-eastern state of Assam on Monday.
The drones will keep vigil and help forest guards monitor movements of poachers across the 430-square kilometre reserve, Assam Forest and Environment Minister Rockybul Hussain said.
“These flights will continue till Thursday and regular operations will begin once we get clearance from the Defence Ministry,” Hussain said.
“Besides this, we are going to introduce the electronic eye, a new surveillance system on the lines of closed-circuit cameras, to guard Kaziranga,” he said by phone from state capital Guwahati.
Hussain said forest guards would also be armed with automatic weapons to counter gangs of poachers in Assam, home to more than 75% of the world’s population of 2 400 one-horned rhinos.
“Poaching is a very serious problem and the rhino is always under a major threat,” said Suresh Chand, Assam’s chief conservator of forests.
Chand said poachers had killed 16 rhinos this year, compared to last year’s total of 22 killings.
Poachers kill rhinos for their horns, which many believe have aphrodisiac qualities, and are used in traditional medicines in Asia.