From militants, forest guards and tea growers to teachers, the cross-section of elements’ involvement in wildlife trade gets wider
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, March 4: Wildlife smuggling cases got murkier in the State today with the arrest a lecturer of a college and a small tea grower in connection with the cases of rhino horn smuggling, on a day when yet another rhino was killed at Kaziranga tiol Park.
Biswath police arrested the history lecturer of Machkhowa Junior College, Mridul Saikia, and a small tea grower of the town, Lakhi Borgohain.
Saikia is a resident of Potholiagaon while Borgohain is from Amguri in
Dhemaji. Police have handed them over to forest officials at Biswath.
“The arrests were made following revelations from a forest protection force staff member and four others who were arrested from Sonitpur district in connection with a rhino poaching incident in Kaziranga tiol Park,” a police source said.
The five persons were arrested while they were coming to collect the horn of the rhino killed by poachers on February 27.
One of the five persons arrested earlier, Dimbeswar Borgohain, is a personnel of the Forest Protection Force deployed in Kaziranga’s Burahapahar Range.
The police also seized the vehicle in which they were travelling. The vehicle was supplied Lakhi Borgohain.
Sources said Mridul Saikia is also part of the gang. The duo that was arrested this morning had reportedly asked the crimil gang of five members to buy a rhino horn at Rs 40 lakh and bring it to them. The duo had provided the vehicle and other logistical support to the gang.
A forest guard was also arrested recently at Orang tiol Park in connection with the poaching cases.
Assam government has been claiming that some insurgent outfits were also behind the wildlife crime.
Meanwhile, the forest department faced another embarrassment today after poachers killed an adult rhino in Kaziranga’s Burapahar range.
This is the seventh rhino to be killed in the park this year.
The rhino was reportedly killed last night between Bahubil and Samata forest camps of the range.
The silencer of an SLR rifle was found from near the carcass. Forest officials said they heard gun shots last night after which an operation was launched in the area.
“The poachers maged to flee. We have deployed sniffer dogs to trace them,” an official said. The ranger of Biswath Forest Range was suspended by Forest minister Atuwa Munda after a rhino was killed by poachers in the Sixth Addition on February 27 last.
Twenty seven rhinos were killed in the Unesco Heritage Site last year.