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. Indian State To Shoot Rhino Poachers On Sight

African one-horned rhino.

Russian hunter kills rare leopard
Vladivostok, Russia (AFP) April 23 - A Russian hunter has shot and killed a rare Amur leopard in the far-east of the country, one of only around 30 left in the wild, the World Wide Fund For Nature said on Monday. The hunter shot the female in the back in mid-April and finished it off by hitting it repeatedly over the head with a heavy object, WWF said in a statement. The incident occurred in the Barsovy national park near the Chinese border, and was the third such incident in the area in the past five years, WWF far-east coordinator Sergei Khokhriakov said. According to the latest report from Russian and US researchers, there are between 25 and 34 of these animals living in three nature reserves along the Amur river. Poachers can sell a dead Amur leopard for up to 50,000 dollars (37,000 dollars). If caught, they risk a fine of just 20,000 rubles (800 dollars), according to Russia's ecological watchdog Rosprirodnadzor.
by Staff Writers
Kaziranga (AFP) India, April 23, 2007
An Indian state has ordered the wardens of a national wildlife park to shoot poachers of endangered one-horned rhinos on sight, officials said Monday. "A massive anti-poaching operation has been launched with orders issued to shoot-on-sight any unauthorised person inside Kaziranga's premises," Rockybul Hussain, northeastern Assam state's forest minister, told AFP in the reserve.

Six rhinos have been killed by poachers in the 430-square-kilometre (166-square-mile) Kaziranga park since January, including two in the past 10 days.

Hussain said he had deployed 50 rangers and 30 soldiers for anti-poaching operations in Kaziranga, home to an estimated 1,855 rhinos.

Experts believe the rhino's horns, which are purportedly an aphrodisiac, are smuggled to China or sold in other clandestine Asian markets.

Buyers from the Middle East also use the horns to make ornamental dagger handles. Estimates suggest the horns can sell for up to 35,000 dollars per kilogramme (2.2 pounds).

Five rhinos were poached last year and seven were killed in 2005.

About 500 rhinos have been killed by poachers over the past 20 years, according to government estimates.

Kaziranga lies some 220 kilometres (158 miles) east of Assam's largest city of Guwahati.

India's western state of Gujarat is also battling poachers. It stepped up security in its Gir forest reserves last week following the mysterious deaths of around a dozen rare Asiatic lions.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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