By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, March 21: Pumping rhino population up by adopting a faulty counting method to get more foreign funds for persol gains is an allegation from Swaraj Asom.
Addressing the press in the city on Wednesday two Swaraj Asom conveners – Bhaben Handique and Tarun Deka – said a section of officials and so-called ture lovers, in connivance with a section of politicians, have all along been adopting the traditiol unreliable method of rhino census, instead of adopting the modern and reliable method. The sole aim of making do with such an outdated traditiol counting method, according to the duo, is making funds from intertiol organizations flowing for rhino conservation in the State. The worst, according to Handique and Deka, is that the funds mostly go to the coffers of those in the racket.
On rhino population, Hadique said: “Under Indian Rhino Vision 2020 the rhino population in Assam is shown at least 3,000, no matter how, only to keep intertiol funds for rhino preservation coming to the State. To get the required number, the enumerators have all along been following the age-old faulty method in which rhino habitats are divided into some blocks and enumerators are engaged for each of such blocks. This method is not reliable as there is every possibility of rhinos moving from one block to another when counting is going on. This is because rhino census is not a matter of one day or two. Modern and reliable rhino counting methods like Line Transect have no takers among the enumerators in Assam. Such methods are not followed by the enumerators in Assam just to play with rhino population figures.”
Neutral observers, according to Handique, are a must for rhino census. “Before every rhino census representatives of many organizations are enlisted for carrying out the counting of rhinos in the State. However, during counting in the field most of such representatives, including neutral observes, are not seen,” Handique said, and added: “According to 2012 rhino census, Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary had 93 rhinos. The number of rhinos in Pobitora has been shown as 102 this year. However, as we know, as many as 26 rhinos faced tural deaths from 2012 to till date in Pabitora. If this figure has an iota of truth in it, Pabitora could have been the most thickly populated habitat for rhino in the world.”
On the rhino population of Kaziranga tiol Park (KNP), Handique said: “In 2006, rhino population in KNP was 1,855. It rose to 2,401 in 2015. As we know, as many as 68 rhinos were killed by poachers in the KNP from 2013-2015. If this figures are taken as gospel, how come Union Minister of State for Forest and Environment Mahesh Sharma included one-horn rhino among 17 endangered animals in the country? The need of the hour is forming a neutral central committee to provide actual rhino population figure in the State so as to make rhino conservation true to the term. GPS method should also be part of the enumeration of rhinos in the State. Foreign funds shouldn’t tempt the enumerators to play with rhino population figures.”