Poachers gunned down another rhino in Assam's Kaziranga National Park on Thursday, taking the toll of slaughtered rhinos to 13 in the past two months.
Forest guards found the dead rhino in the Arikati area under the Agoratoli range of the park.
A seven-hour gun fight ensued between forest guards and poachers. Forest guards eventually located the bullet-ridden rhino with its horn removed. Several AK-47 ammunitions were also found near the carcass, said forest officials.
Kaziranga park warden N.K. Vasu told AFP, "In two months the poachers have killed 13 rhinos,"
Last year, 21 rhinos were slaughtered for their valuable horns.
Instances of the slaughtering of one-horned rhinos in Kazaringa have become common in recent years.
Wildlife experts said that the price of a single rhino horn comes close to gold and its high worth attracts international criminals.
Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary, housing two-third of the one-horned rhinos in the world, has seen a steep fall in the population of the endangered species.
Apurba Das, a wildlife conservationist in Assam expressed his concern. "We cannot simply sit tight and watch the rhinos being slaughtered almost every other day."
About 300 Assam Forest Protection Force personnel were set up recently to fight poachers and protect wild animals in the park, but the move proved futile with an increasing number of rhinos being slaughtered.
Several animal conservation groups, including WWF-India, are concerned over the killings and demanded immediate steps from the state government, forest department and park authority for the protection of the animal.
Local resident Ramen Deka said, "It will be just a matter of time before the rhino population in Kaziranga is wiped out by organised poacher gangs with the government failing to check incidents of poaching," reported AFP.