By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, June 9: Nearly 48 hours after poachers killed a rhino at Kaziranga and took away its horn, that too during Forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma’s visit to the tiol park, a joint team of forest and police personnel today found the carcass near Demow forest camp of Agoratoli range.
Confirming reports from locals, forest officials said the carcass was that of a female rhino. Its horn was missing.
In Guwahati, Forest minister Brahma, who concluded her two-day visit to the park yesterday, hinted at departmental proceedings against the delinquent forest staff.
“If any forest staff is involved in poaching, we will take necessary action. When I interacted with local villagers, they told me that they suspect a section of forest staff is working hand-in-glove with poaching networks,” she said.
The Forest minister again expressed shock at the fact that the KNP authorities initially tried to cover up the poaching incident and did not inform her.
“I had asked the director, why I was not informed. The director told me that the forest staff had just heard some gunshots… they were not sure if any rhino was killed. But they should have informed me about the gunshots being heard. I am not at all convinced with their version,” she said.
The Forest minister was informed about the poaching incident by the local media at Kaziranga at around 10 pm of Tuesday, though the incident had occurred at around 2 pm.
Brahma admitted that forest guards are battling poachers, some of whom are backed by militants, with outdated weapons and insufficient ammunition, and said there was need to equip the frontline staff with better equipment.
On allegations that some rhino horns kept under government custody have gone missing, the Forest minister said that according to information given to her by the department, 802 rhinos died turally since 2001. “They told me that all the horns are intact and they are being kept at banks. But I will persolly verify it later,” she said.
She said she would take up with the Revenue department the issue of encroachments in some additions of the park and the early handing over of the remaining additions to the park.
Meanwhile, Bokakhat police today caught a suspected rhino poacher – identified as Ronuj Pegu – from the town’s Bohikhuwagaon area. A .303 rifle and some live rounds were seized from him.