GUWAHATI: Around 22 one-horned rhinoceros were killed by poachers in Assam in the last five years, the state assembly was informed on August 4.
In a written reply to a query by AIUDF MLA Sirajuddin Ajmal, Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said 22 rhinos were poached during the period.
According to the forest minister, nine rhinos were killed in 2017, followed by seven in 2018, three in 2019, two in 2020, and one in 2021, Suklabaidya informed the House.
Altogether, 644 poachers have been arrested till June 1, and 25 cases were registered against them, he said.
"After proper inquiry, arrests of poachers are made… The Assam government has constituted 10 fast-track session courts for speedy trials of wildlife-related crimes," the minister said.
The data presented by the government, however, showed that the number of such poaching incidents is decreasing every year.
Earlier in May, sixty-seven endangered turtles, including six of the Chitra-Indica species, were seized from four poachers in Etawah by personnel of the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department in coordination with the Society for Conservation of Nature (Wildlife organization) and Special Operation Group.
The team seized 55 Sundari (Lissemys punctata), six Chitra-Indica (narrow-headed softshell turtle) and one Sonia (Nilssonia gangetica) turtle, each nearly 50 kg in weight, on Saturday. Of the 67, five turtles including, one Sonia and four Sundari, were recovered in a dead state.
All three species are highly endangered and in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as 'threatened species'. The smugglers were arrested near the Pilua Mahaveer temple in the Civil Lines area.
"They wanted to take the turtles to Nepal via Uttarakhand when the joint team seized it," said Sanjay Singh, district forest officer, Etawah. Rajiv Chauhan, secretary of, Society for Conservation of Nature, said that of the 67, six of the turtles of Chitra species, are nearly 40 to 50 kg in weight.