Bihar’s lone rhino dies under mysterious circumstances

A rhinoceros that frequented the forest range of Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar and Sohagi Barwa Wildlife Sanctuary of Uttar Pradesh was found dead under mysterious circumstances on Tuesday. Whereas the horns were found intact on its body, traces of blood were found near its mouth giving rise to speculations of poisoning.

The carcass was found in a sugarcane field in Valmikinagar Range. Rhinos are hunted primarily for their horns, which are made from keratin (a protein that is also found in human hair and nails) and used to prepare traditional medicines in certain Asian countries. Chief Forester H.K. Rai said that four tiger trackers were deployed to track the movement of the rhinoceros which had come to the Valmiki Tiger Reserve about two years ago along with its mate.

With its mate dying in March last year, it was the only one left in this area. The movement of the rhino was tracked, it had crossed the Sohagi Barwa area two days before its death and ventured into the forest areas of Bihar. He also indicated that there were no injury marks on its body. Samples have been collected and sent for forensic examination to Patna and Bareilly.

Rhinos, which are found in plenty in neighbouring Chitwan National Park in Nepal, are frequent visitors at this adjoining tiger reserve. This lone rhino was the centre of attraction at Valmiki Tiger Reserve. Rai ruled out any poaching or hunting motives, but said that things would be clear after the post-mortem and forensic lab report. He indicated this rhinoceros could have possibly died of Anthrax poisoning. However, man-animal conflict leading to the targeted killing of animals in this tiger reserve is not new. Investigations are on to ascertain the exact cause of death.

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