AP PHOTOS: 1-horned rhinos in Indian park saved by mud, guns

India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_81712 Swamp deer look at forest officials and enumerators on a census exercise to count one-horned rhinoceros' in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Sunday, March 27, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_66132 A one-horned rhinoceros crosses a road meant for safaris in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_89556 Forest officers count one-horned rhinoceros' during a rhino census in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Sunday, March 27, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_83737 A one-horned rhinoceros runs in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Sunday, March 27, 2022. The rare one-horned rhinos that roam Kaziranga National Park in northeastern India have been increasing in numbers, thanks to stronger police efforts against poaching and artificial mud platforms that keep the animals safe from floods.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_27070 Forest officers attend a briefing session on counting rhinos for a census drive in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Friday, March 25, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_02417 Forest officers ride an elephant as they count one-horned Rhinoceros' during a rhino census in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_07150 Forest officers prepare for a census to count one-horned rhinoceros' in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_18002 Forest officers prepare food for enumerators and observers who are part of a census drive to count one-horned rhinoceros' in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_75851 A one-horned Rhinoceros walks with a calf at the Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Saturday March 26, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_31917 An enumerator drops his data sheet in a box after completing a rhino count at the Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Sunday, March 27, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_32756 An officer checks GPS data in a laptop after as part of an effort to count the one-horned rhinoceros in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Sunday, March 27, 2022. The rare one-horned rhinos that roam Kaziranga National Park in northeastern India have been increasing in numbers, thanks to stronger police efforts against poaching and artificial mud platforms that keep the animals safe from floods.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_88027 Forest officers and enumerators ride an elephant to count one-horned Rhinoceros' during a rhino census in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Sunday, March 27, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_53611 A wild elephant plays with calves at the Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the one-horned rhinoceros' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_77085 Officers prepare to leave for a census drive to count one-horned Rhinoceros' at Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Sunday, March 27, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_27475 An enumerator checks his GPS before leaving for a rhino census count exercise at Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_62071 Swamp deer look at forest officials and enumerators on a census exercise to count one-horned rhinoceros' in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_94507 Officers prepare to leave for a census exercise to count one-horned Rhinoceros' in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Sunday, March 27, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_38324 An enumerator checks his GPS before leaving for a rhino census count exercise at Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Sunday, March 27, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
India_Rhino_Census_Photo_Gallery_75855 A forest officer stands guard during a census drive to count one-horned rhinoceros' in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
A one-horned rhinoceros crosses a road meant for safaris in Kaziranga national park, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos' numbers increased more than 12%, neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.
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GAUHATI, India (AP) — The rare one-horned rhinos that roam Kaziranga National Park in northeastern India have been increasing in numbers, thanks to stronger police efforts against poaching and artificial mud platforms that keep the animals safe from floods.

Those successful conservation efforts helped raise the park’s rhino population by 200 in the past four years, census figures released by park authorities this week showed.

Nearly 400 men using 50 domesticated elephants and drones scanned the park’s 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) territory in March and found the rhinos’ numbers increased more than 12% — neutralizing a severe threat to the animals from poaching gangs and monsoon flooding.

“From the last count in 2018, the number of the rare one-horned rhinoceros at our park has risen by 200. The number of this species at the Kaziranga now stands at 2,613,” park Director Jatindra Sarma said.

“Poaching has declined in recent years with only one rhino being killed so far this year,” S. Gogoi, a wildlife official, said.

Poachers kill rhinoceroses to take their horns — which are believed to have aphrodisiac properties and are in great demand in the clandestine markets in Southeast Asia.

Monsoon flooding has also killed animals of several species in Kaziranga, which is spread across the floodplains of the Brahmaputra River in Assam state. Authorities have built high mud platforms where rhinos take refuge with guards providing them fodder to survive during the monsoon season.

A police task force inducted last year is armed with weapons as sophisticated as those carried by the poachers, too, said G.P. Singh, a top police officer heading the force. Wildlife rangers and security guards carried outdated guns while protecting the park in the past.

Poaching in Kaziranga peaked in 2013 and 2014 with 27 rhinos killed each year. It came down to six in 2017, seven in 2018, three in 2019, two in 2020 and one in 2021.

Kaziranga, more than a century old and a UNESCO heritage site, is also a breeding ground for elephants, wild water buffalo and swamp deer, and conservation efforts have also helped increase its tiger population.

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Associated Press writer Wasbir Hussain contributed to this story from Gauhati, India.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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