Assam is a state enriched with rich flora and fauna. The state has scripted a success story in the world's rhino conservation landscape as the Rhinoceros unicornis species or one-horned rhinoceros found in Assam's National Parks are well protected. This species was once a severe victim of poaching in the state as the rhino population started dwindling.
Since 2016, the State government has been making concerted efforts to conserve the one-horned rhino which is strongly associated with Assam's identity while the beautiful creature also occupies a special place in Assamese people's hearts.
On World Rhino Day, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took to Twitter to announce that the state government is committed to protect the magnificent animal and its habitat. “The one-horned rhino, the pride of Assam, occupies a special place in the hearts & minds of our people. A major tourist attraction, it forms a part of Assam’s culture. On #WorldRhinoDay, I reaffirm our Govt’s strong commitment to protect the magnificent animal & its habitat,” the CM said.
“Greetings on the World Rhino Day. @assampolice would continue to be the voice of our friends from animal kingdom. @CMOfficeAssam @assamforest,” Additional DGP (Law & Order) GP Singh also wished on world rhino day.
Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also shared a tweet on World Rhino Day. He said, “Greetings on #WorldRhinoDay! Loveable giants, the iconic One Horned Rhino is the pride of India.”
World Rhino Day is observed every year on September 22 to raise awareness about the different species of rhinoceros around the world and the dangers they face. World Rhino Day creates an avenue for various stakeholders like governments, communities, NGOs, wildlife conservation centres, research centres and individuals concerned to unite and seek new ways to eliminate poaching practices and preserve certain extremely endangered rhinoceros species from extinction.
The one-horned rhino is a pride of Assam and apart from being the third largest animal, the species is one of the most unique and limited mammals in the world.
The Kaziranga National Park accounts for about 85% of the total population of rhinos in the world while some of these are scattered in National Parks around India and Nepal.
With 2,895 rhinos, Assam is home to the largest population of one-horned rhinos in India. Of these, 2,613 rhinos live in Kaziranga National Park (KNP) while Manas National Park has 50, Orang National Park has 125 and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary has 107. A four-day rhino census, conducted between 25and 28 March 2022 in KNP, showed an increase of 200 rhinos in the park from 2018 despite 400 deaths, mainly due to natural causes.
Poaching of rhinoceros is a major threat to the species and was a big challenge for the Government of Assam. Poaching for their horns remains a serious threat where the one-horned rhinoceros are killed and their horns are then cut off and smuggled. Despite being illegal and without scientific basis, rhino horns are wrongly perceived to be containing medicinal values and are still used in some traditional Asian medicines for the treatment of a variety of illnesses.