Guards shoot 3 suspected poachers at Indian rhino reserve

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Guards shoot 3 suspected poachers at Indian rhino reserve
A mahout cleans the tusk of his elephant as he prepares for the first elephant ride of the tourist season at Kaziranga National Park, some 280kms from Guwahati, the capital city of Indias northeastern state of Assam on October 31, 2014. India's Assam state Forest Department will reopen Kaziranga National Park for tourists on November 1, following heavy flooding during the monsoon season. AFP Photo/Biju BORO (Photo credit should read BIJU BORO/AFP/Getty Images)
KAZIRANGA/ , ASSAM, INDIA - 2010/01/24: Training of new Park Rangers, par of a Forest Battalion of nearly 800 men. The new recruits will reinforce Kaziranga National Park's defense against poachers. The program includes both weapons training and botany. In Kaziranga National Park there is a war going on between poachers who are hunting the extremely endangered single-horned rhinos and the Park Rangers. The poachers who kill the rhinos just for the horn, offer armed resistance when they are caught hunting by the Rangers. The Rangers are “licensed to kill” - literally. Tourists can visit the reserve when accompanied by Park Rangers, but anyone else is considered an illegal or a poacher and is shot on sight. There have been cases of summary executions, poachers caught and made to kneel down and shot in the back of the head. Part of the problem is the poverty of the farmers in the nearby villages who are faced with the threat or encroachment by elephants, tigers rhinos and buffaloes who destroy their crops. They often help or even guide the poachers for small payments. Rangers feel that until the local population is committed to conserving the wildlife the violence and killings will continue.. (Photo by Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Remo Peduzzi, managing director of Research Drones Limited Company of Switzerland, launches an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for flight at the Kaziranga National Park, some 250 kilometers east of Guwahati, on April 8, 2013. India said Monday it is deploying drones over a reserve in the northeast to safeguard the rare one-horned rhino from poachers in the first-ever such aerial conservation move in the country. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian forestry officials, with the help of two trained elephants, rescue an elephant calf which got stuck in a mud pit at Lukhurakhonia Village near Kaziranga National Park on September 20, 2014. The baby elephant, which was separated from its mother, was successfully rescued. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
ASSAM, INDIA - 2014/08/26: A herd of wild elephants cross a highway in search of dry land after floods hit Kaziranga National Park in Assam. Nearly 900,000 (nine lakh) people are affected in 15 districts in Assam as incessant rains over the last two days have meant that Brahmaputra and its tributaries are flowing above the danger mark. (Photo by Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
KAZIRANGA/ , ASSAM, INDIA - 2010/01/23: Park Ranger Attatur Rahman Laskar is on patrol. He sits silently in a jeep and listening for sounds. The forest surrounding the vehicle is quiet, dark and cold. In Kaziranga National Park there is a war going on between poachers who are hunting the extremely endangered single-horned rhinos and the Park Rangers. The poachers who kill the rhinos just for the horn, offer armed resistance when they are caught hunting by the Rangers. The Rangers are “licensed to kill” - literally. Tourists can visit the reserve when accompanied by Park Rangers, but anyone else is considered an illegal or a poacher and is shot on sight. There have been cases of summary executions, poachers caught and made to kneel down and shot in the back of the head. Part of the problem is the poverty of the farmers in the nearby villages who are faced with the threat or encroachment by elephants, tigers rhinos and buffaloes who destroy their crops. They often help or even guide the poachers for small payments. Rangers feel that until the local population is committed to conserving the wildlife the violence and killings will continue. . (Photo by Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A tusker elephant stands near the water at the Kaziranga National Park, about 250 kms from Guwahati on October 31, 2013. The world famous Kaziranga National Park will be reopened for tourists from November 1, 2013. There are seventeen species of mammals, twenty three species of birds and ten species of reptiles which are on the endangered list in Kaziranga which has the worlds largest concentration of Indian one horned rhino. AFP PHOTO/Biju Boro (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Tourists photograph a rhinoceros during an elephant safari at Kaziranga National Park, some 250kms east of Guwahati on November 1, 2013. The world famous Kaziranga National Park has reopened for tourists. There are seventeen species of mammals, twenty three species of birds and ten species of reptiles which are on the endangered list in Kaziranga which has the worlds largest concentration of Indian one-horned rhino. AFP PHOTO/Biju Boro (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian mahouts transport grass on elephants at the Kaziranga National Park, about 250 kms from Guwahati on October 31, 2013. The world famous Kaziranga National Park will be reopened for tourists from November 1, 2013. There are seventeen species of mammals, twenty three species of birds and ten species of reptiles which are on the endangered list in Kaziranga which has the worlds largest concentration of Indian one horned rhino. AFP PHOTO/Biju Boro (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian forest officials stand near the body of a one horned horn Rhinoceros, which was killed and de-horned by poachers at Burapahar in Kaziranga National Park, some 250kms east of Guwahati on August 21, 2013. An armed gang has killed two rare rhinos at a wildlife park in northeast India, as officials said August 22 drones deployed to stem the rising number of killings have been halted. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
An Indian forest official shows the bullets used by poachers to shoot a one horned horn Rhinoceros, which was killed and de-horned by the poachers at Karbi hills near Kaziranga National Park, some 250km east of Guwahati the capital city the northeastern state of Assam on September 27, 2012. A rhino was killed by poachers and its horn removed in the early hours on Thursday, barely a day after one was killed and another left bleeding in the world-famous Kaziranga National Park. AFP PHOTO/ Biju Boro (Photo credit should read BIJU BORO/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian forestry officials hold up unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) during a demonstration to the media at the Kaziranga National Park, some 250 kilometers east of Guwahati, on April 8, 2013. India said Monday it is deploying drones over a reserve in the northeast to safeguard the rare one-horned rhino from poachers in the first-ever such aerial conservation move in the country. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
(FILES) In this photograph taken on February 21, 2012, tourists riding on elephants photograph a one-horned rhinoceros with her calf at the Kaziranga National Park, some 230 km from Guwahati, in India’s northeastern state of Assam. A continuing decline in the quality of the rhino's habitat will affect the long-term survival of some of the smaller populations, said a report in the latest IUCN 'Red List' of threatened species'. More than 400 plants and animals were added to a 'Red List' of species at risk of extinction on October 17, 2012, raising the alarm as more than 70 environment ministers met for a global conference. AFP PHOTO/BIJU BORO/FILES (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
KAZIRANGA N P , ASSAM, INDIA - 2011/11/28: Rhinos are the main attraction in Kaziranga National Park.. (Photo by Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images)
ASSAM, INDIA - 2010/01/27: The three Park Rangers Mohmoud Karmakar, Apurba Acka and Ratul Mahanta ride out into the dusk, on patrol with the 24-year-old male elephant called Root. In Kaziranga National Park there is a war going on between poachers who are hunting the extremely endangered single-horned rhinos and the Park Rangers. The poachers who kill the rhinos just for the horn, offer armed resistance when they are caught hunting by the Rangers. The Rangers are “licensed to kill” - literally. Tourists can visit the reserve when accompanied by Park Rangers, but anyone else is considered an illegal or a poacher and is shot on sight. There have been cases of summary executions, poachers caught and made to kneel down and shot in the back of the head. Part of the problem is the poverty of the farmers in the nearby villages who are faced with the threat or encroachment by elephants, tigers rhinos and buffaloes who destroy their crops. They often help or even guide the poachers for small payments. Rangers feel that until the local population is committed to conserving the wildlife the violence and killings will continue.. (Photo by Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)
KAZIRANGA/ , ASSAM, INDIA - 2010/01/27: The three Park Rangers Mohmoud Karmakar, Apurba Acka and Ratul Mahanta ride out into the dusk, on patrol with the 24-year-old male elephant called Root. In Kaziranga National Park there is a war going on between poachers who are hunting the extremely endangered single-horned rhinos and the Park Rangers. The poachers who kill the rhinos just for the horn, offer armed resistance when they are caught hunting by the Rangers. The Rangers are “licensed to kill” - literally. Tourists can visit the reserve when accompanied by Park Rangers, but anyone else is considered an illegal or a poacher and is shot on sight. There have been cases of summary executions, poachers caught and made to kneel down and shot in the back of the head. Part of the problem is the poverty of the farmers in the nearby villages who are faced with the threat or encroachment by elephants, tigers rhinos and buffaloes who destroy their crops. They often help or even guide the poachers for small payments. Rangers feel that until the local population is committed to conserving the wildlife the violence and killings will continue.. (Photo by Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)
KAZIRANGA/ , ASSAM, INDIA - 2010/01/27: Kaziranga National Park is one of the last refuges for the single horned rhinoceros which have remained endangered since the early 1900s. At that point there were only around 200 animals left, but concerted effort to protect the species has allowed some repopulation which means that this nature reserve now holds two thirds of the Earths remaining 2500 single horned rhinos. The park is also rich in bird life, elephants, deer, jackals and gaur (Indian bison) and even tigers. However in Kaziranga National Park there is a war going on between poachers who are hunting the extremely endangered single-horned rhinos and the Park Rangers. The poachers who kill the rhinos just for the horn, offer armed resistance when they are caught hunting by the Rangers. The Rangers are “licensed to kill” - literally. Tourists can visit the reserve when accompanied by Park Rangers, but anyone else is considered an illegal or a poacher and is shot on sight. There have been cases of summary executions, poachers caught and made to kneel down and shot in the back of the head. Part of the problem is the poverty of the farmers in the nearby villages who are faced with the threat or encroachment by elephants, tigers rhinos and buffaloes who destroy their crops. They often help or even guide the poachers for small payments. Rangers feel that until the local population is committed to conserving the wildlife the violence and killings will continue.. (Photo by Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)
KAZIRANGA/ , ASSAM, INDIA - 2010/01/27: Kaziranga National Park is one of the last refuges for the single horned rhinoceros which have remained endangered since the early 1900s. At that point there were only around 200 animals left, but concerted effort to protect the species has allowed some repopulation which means that this nature reserve now holds two thirds of the Earths remaining 2500 single horned rhinos. The park is also rich in bird life, elephants, deer, jackals and gaur (Indian bison) and even tigers. Kaziranga National Park is the biggest tourist attraction in the state of Assam with elephant safaris being the most popular way of seeing the wildlife. However in Kaziranga National Park there is a war going on between poachers who are hunting the extremely endangered single-horned rhinos and the Park Rangers. The poachers who kill the rhinos just for the horn, offer armed resistance when they are caught hunting by the Rangers. The Rangers are “licensed to kill” - literally. Tourists can visit the reserve when accompanied by Park Rangers, but anyone else is considered an illegal or a poacher and is shot on sight. There have been cases of summary executions, poachers caught and made to kneel down and shot in the back of the head. Part of the problem is the poverty of the farmers in the nearby villages who are faced with the threat or encroachment by elephants, tigers rhinos and buffaloes who destroy their crops. They often help or even guide the poachers for small payments. Rangers feel that until the local population is committed to conserving the wildlife the violence and killings will continue.. (Photo by Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)
KAZIRANGA/ , ASSAM, INDIA - 2010/01/24: Kaziranga National Park is the biggest tourist attraction in the state of Assam with elephant safaris being the most popular way of seeing the wildlife. However in Kaziranga National Park there is a war going on between poachers who are hunting the extremely endangered single-horned rhinos and the Park Rangers. The poachers who kill the rhinos just for the horn, offer armed resistance when they are caught hunting by the Rangers. The Rangers are “licensed to kill” - literally. Tourists can visit the reserve when accompanied by Park Rangers, but anyone else is considered an illegal or a poacher and is shot on sight. There have been cases of summary executions, poachers caught and made to kneel down and shot in the back of the head. Part of the problem is the poverty of the farmers in the nearby villages who are faced with the threat or encroachment by elephants, tigers rhinos and buffaloes who destroy their crops. They often help or even guide the poachers for small payments. Rangers feel that until the local population is committed to conserving the wildlife the violence and killings will continue.. (Photo by Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)
KAZIRANGA/ , ASSAM, INDIA - 2010/01/23: Members of the Forest Battalion (Assam Forest Protection Force) prepare for evening patrols in Kaziranga. In Kaziranga National Park there is a war going on between poachers who are hunting the extremely endangered single-horned rhinos and the Park Rangers. The poachers who kill the rhinos just for the horn, offer armed resistance when they are caught hunting by the Rangers. The Rangers are “licensed to kill” - literally. Tourists can visit the reserve when accompanied by Park Rangers, but anyone else is considered an illegal or a poacher and is shot on sight. There have been cases of summary executions, poachers caught and made to kneel down and shot in the back of the head. Part of the problem is the poverty of the farmers in the nearby villages who are faced with the threat or encroachment by elephants, tigers rhinos and buffaloes who destroy their crops. They often help or even guide the poachers for small payments. Rangers feel that until the local population is committed to conserving the wildlife the violence and killings will continue.. (Photo by Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)
India, Assam State, Kaziranga National Park, Great One-Horned Rhinoceros. (Photo by Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
INDIA - JUNE 26: New grass growth stimulated by a fire set by staff. Kaziranga National Park, India. (Photo by Steve Winter/National Geographic/Getty Images)
INDIA - FEBRUARY 16: A Kaziranga National Park guard with scars on his back from a rhino. Kaziranga National Park, India. (Photo by Steve Winter/National Geographic/Getty Images)
Forest guards with arms patrol on a boat through floodwaters as they keep vigil on Rhino poachers in Pobitora wildlife sanctuary, about 55 kilometers east of Gauhati, in the eastern Indian state of Assam, Saturday, July 21, 2012. Over 540 animals, including 14 endangered one-horned rhinos, have perished in the world-famed Kaziranga National Park in Assam during the current wave of floods, perhaps the worst-ever to hit the Park in recent history. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
ASSAM, INDIA - 2014/11/01: Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain feeds the elephant inside Kaziranga National Park about 250km east of Guwahati, Assam. After two devastating waves of flood , the park which is home of the one horned Rhinoceros was re-opened for tourist. (Photo by Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
ASSAM, INDIA - 2014/11/01: The elephants are prepared for a ride inside Kaziranga National Park about 250km east of Guwahati, Assam. After two devastating waves of flood , the park which is home of the one horned Rhinoceros was re-opened for tourist. (Photo by Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A sambar deer looks on as it grazes with its herd at Kaziranga National Park, situated some 250km northeast of Guwahati, on December 21, 2014. The sambar deer (rusa unicolor) is native to the Indian subcontinent and across southern China and Southeast Asia, where it is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
ASSAM, INDIA - 2014/11/01: Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain enjoys the elephant ride inside Kaziranga National Park about 250km east of Guwahati, Assam. After two devastating waves of flood , the park which is home of the one horned Rhinoceros was re-opened for tourist. (Photo by Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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GAUHATI, India (AP) -- Wildlife rangers in remote northeastern India shot three suspected poachers dead in a gunbattle Wednesday morning in a famed rhino reserve.

It was the second recent case of violence in Kaziranga National Park, where three other poachers have been shot dead in the past two weeks.

On Wednesday, the rangers had received a tip and "were lying in wait at three locations inside the park," National Park Director M.K. Yadava said.

They spotted four armed poachers, and a shootout erupted with three of the poachers killed and one escaping, Yadava said. The rangers later recovered two rifles and a pistol from the dead poachers.

The park, which spans some 430 square kilometers (166 square miles) along the Brahmaputra River in the northeastern state of Assam, is known for having the world's largest number - at 2,329 - of endangered one-horned rhinoceros.

Illegal hunters, lured by black market demand for rhino horns, have already killed four of Kaziranga's rhinos this year after killing 27 last year. Experts say the poachers can make up to $113,000 by selling a single rhino horn, which are wanted in countries like China, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries where many people believe exotic animal parts have medicinal or aphrodisiacal properties. In most cases, there is no scientific evidence that they do.

Yadava said India's army was also helping rangers by sharing intelligence on poacher movements.

Poaching has also become a political issue in Assam, with the state government under pressure to check the menace.

"If rhino poaching cannot be controlled this year, we may have to fare badly in the state elections next year," said Himanta Biswa Sharma, a leader in the Congress party, which runs the state.

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