BY Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, February 24: A discussion convened by Governor Padmabha Balakrish Acharya involving organizations and intellectuals of Assam, has mooted the idea of deploying local inhabitants as the first line of defence in Kaziranga to check the ubated poaching of rhinos. The meeting to discuss the issue of rhino poaching was called by the Governor recently at Raj Bhavan. It was attended by representatives from Axom Xahitya Xabha, Gauhati University, Vivekanda Kendra, Kamrup Mahagar Zila Xahitya Xabha and leading intellectuals. Former Governor of Bihar and Tripura Devanda Konwar also participated in the meeting.
After detailed discussions, the organisations conveyed to the Governor their decision to issue a public appeal for saving the rhino. The organizations also opined that the 1,200-odd forest guards are not enough to effectively counter poachers. Care should be taken to offer adequate support to them to counter poachers, the organisations felt.
“Residents along our wildlife sanctuaries should be the foremost protectors to prevent poachers. We should equip these ‘first line saviours and protectors’ to act against poachers. It is our primary duty to win their trust so they can become our foremost allies in our fight against poachers. We must initiate every measure to ensure that they remain on our side and extend all their cooperation to us in our struggle to save the rhino. Therefore, it is apparent that we should build up the inhabitants of these areas as the first line of defense and provide them with full support and security,” the appeal said.
The appeal also underlined the need to verify whether there were ‘fifth columnists’ – those who are hand-in-glove with nefarious crimils.
The organizations felt that everyone “must realize that it is our foremost responsibility to immediately and relentlessly nip in the bud the nefarious activities of poachers, with the trust of the people.”
A Raj Bhavan communiqué said saving the rhino will ensure safeguarding the environment in the sense that it will certainly lead to conservation of tural habitats of all tural species in particular, and bio-diversity of the region in general.
“This will require a holistic approach to preserve the environment which is also closely connected to the attraction of Assam in the tourist map of the world. We need to build up a strong support base for the sake of the rhino and its preservation, for which we earnestly appeal to all to come forward and do everything possible to protect and nurture this wonderful creature,” it said.
However, despite efforts from certain quarters, questions have been raised as to why accountability has not been fixed on higher-ups in the Forest department – be it those posted at Kaziranga or those sitting at Dispur.
It has been observed that forest officials are never held responsible, and the sole blame put on poachers. The searchlight has never been put upon lax forest officials.
However, sources said that from now on, higher-ups in the department will be answerable for lacus in the KNP security mechanism.