Three one-horned rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park in India within a month. The poachers, who surprisingly used sophisticated weapons, managed to flee with the horns.
The third rhino was killed on 27 January while the first two were killed on 12 and 24 January in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam. Forest officials say they heard gunshots in the midnight.
Though rhino poaching is not uncommon at the park, a Unesco world heritage site, the use of advanced weapons such as M4 rifles by the perpetrators has perplexed security personnel, who still use outdated arms.
"The incident came to light when the forest guards heard gunshots from the Burhapahar range around 12.30 in the night. Immediately an operation was launched but the carcass of the rhino was only discovered on Wednesday morning, near the Deochur camp in the Burhapahar range of the park," a senior forest official was quoted as saying.
Kaziranga, located about 250km from the state's biggest city Guwahati, hosts the largest number of one-horned rhinos in the world. Nearly 2,300 of the world's 3,300 rhinos are thought to be living there. In 2015, 15 rhinos were killed for their horns.
Local insurgent groups are recently thought to have waded into the rhino body parts trade in the region – where everything ranging from horns, nails and skins are valued for their medicinal worth.