BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, Aug 11: A high level expert consultation meet for developing stronger strategy towards rhino protection in Assam was held here on Thursday.
In the meeting with wildlife experts, Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal said the State government is fully committed to protection of the one-horned rhinoceros. Wildlife experts would have to come up with concrete suggestions to safeguard rhinos from poachers. Sonowal said a comprehensive action plan has to be evolved for rhino protection.
Underscoring the need for adopting latest technologies and know-how to protect rhinos, Sonowal said the forest personnel manning Kaziranga tiol Park must be equipped with sophisticated arms.
The Chief Minister also stressed the need for building a strong intelligence network to track the movements of poachers, as well as to strengthen the surveillance system.
Emphasizing on involvement of the people living on fringe areas of the park for safeguarding rhinos, Sonowal said the Forest department has to work in tandem with local people, particularly the youth. He directed the Forest department to take special initiatives for healthcare of forest personnel guarding the park.
Based on the recommendations put forward by wildlife experts, the Chief Minister asked the Forest department to prepare an action plan immediately.
Among the major recommendations are setting up of an intelligence cell with forest and police officers for wildlife crimes with provisions for secret service fund; creation of a full-fledged forensic facility to support wildlife crime investigation; establishment of a separate prosecution unit with support of legal experts against wildlife crimes; providing modern technology, arms and ammunition to wildlife wing and strengthening manpower and fincial resources for wildlife magement.
The meeting was attended, among others, by Minister for Environment & Forest Pramila Rani Brahma, Chief Secretary VK Pipersenia, Additiol Chief Secretary TY Das, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Daresh Mathur, ADGP (SB), Commissioner & Secretary to CM Sanjay Lohiya, and representatives of WWF, WTI, WCCB, NTCA, WL and SOS.
Meanwhile, in the recent devastating floods, 32 rhinos perished in Kaziranga. State Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma, while replying to a question raised by AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam in the House on Thursday, said, "392 animals of Kaziranga, Mas and Orang tiol parks died due to floods. In Kaziranga, 32 rhinos perished. A total 107 animals including 9 rhinos were rescued by wildlife officials from these parks."