By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, June 8: Around the time when Forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma was reviewing conservation efforts at Kaziranga tiol Park, poachers struck at the park's Agoratoli range, killing a female rhino, in an incident that left the Forest department red-faced.
But what happened in the aftermath was bizarre to say the least as forest officials in the park, in a desperate attempt to cover up the incident, allegedly tried to destroy the carcass with chemicals and salt. The carcass has still not been found.
After the Forest minister came to know of the incident "from a different source", she expressed outrage at the officials and wondered why they tried to hide the matter from her. The embarrassed minister was prompted to the visit the Agoratoli range last night itself.
"I don't know why the incident was not reported to me. They (forest officials) should have told me. As it was still daytime (the time of the incident), I could have activated NGOs and community people and we could have tried to b the poachers," she said.
Besides the Forest minister, Agriculture minister Atul Bora, Water Resources minister Keshab Mahanta and five other MLAs were also present at the park during that time.
Sources said locals heard around three gunshots at around 3.30 pm.
The Forest minister had embarked on a two-day visit to the tiol park yesterday. Brahma, accompanied by the Water Resources minister, visited the erosion-hit areas of Kaziranga today.
Since 2001 till the first part of 2016, poachers had killed 193 rhinos in the park.