In India’s Assam state, a new chief minister set out to put an end to poaching in the state’s protected areas in May 2021.
Two years later, the forestry and police departments have reported that not a single rhino was lost to poaching in 2022, marking the first time that has happened since 1977.
The state, located on the borders of Tibetan China and Myanmar, is home to some of the world’s richest biodiversity and contains Kaziranga, Manas, and Orang national parks, as well as Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.
These protected areas make up the majority of the one-horned rhinoceros’ range in India, and of the 2,895 rhinos in the state, almost all can be found inside them.
The chief minister put together a special anti-poaching task force, which created a database of past incidents of rhino poaching and brought in local fisherman and villagers as informants.
The rhinos in the parks were heavily guarded by sophisticated police commando teams with night vision equipment and drones. The number of teams was increased during full moon nights, and they even stayed in the field 24/7 during monsoon season to ensure the animals’ safety.
The efforts have been so successful that poacher arrest rates are now being measured weekly, rather than monthly. Thanks to these efforts, the population of one-horned rhinos has grown from just around 100 individuals in 1910 to almost 3,000 today.