The current state of rhino in Assam and threats in the 21st century

Assam, India, is one of the last remaining strongholds of the Indian rhino, an animal that is dependent on conservation because of threats from poaching and destruction of habitat. Field research was carried out in Assam to ascertain the current state of the rhino and to evaluate various threats. This paper highlights the latest status of rhino in Assam after the census of 1999, and the intense fieldwork carried out between January 1998 and September 2000. Poaching and floods are both named as major problems that greatly hamper conservation. The rhino population in Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary had increased from 54 in 1987 to 74 in 1999; in Kaziranga National Park it increased from 1164 in 1993 to 1552 in 1999. However, in Orang National Park, the rhino population decreased from 97 in 1991 to only 46 in 1999, mainly because of unabated poaching.