10 January 2012
Hunters now the hunted
IT was after midnight when the patrolling forest guards first saw them. Five poachers crouching in the jungle, tense and braced for trouble, ready to slaughter a rhino in one of India's premier national parks. They had crept in from the north as the monsoon floodwaters ebbed, willing to risk death for the rhino's precious horn.
The guards lifted their rifles and the night exploded in a hail of bullets. Two of the poachers were killed outright; two escaped, running into the night. The remaining survivor was gravely injured, shot in the leg and in the shoulder. He fled alone, crashing through the dense vegetation, leaving a blood trail like a wounded beast.