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Rhino poaching: Munda brainstorms with scribes

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  23 Feb 2015 12:00 AM GMT

To check duplication of rhino horns allegedly by some corrupt forest officials for selling the same at high prices to poachers, the Forest department is planning to do D profiling of recovered rhino horns to avoid duplication

BY OUR STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI, February 22: It seems the Assam government is filly taking rhino poaching seriously. To brainstorm on the issue, Forest and Environment minister Etawa Munda on Sunday took part in a meeting with a section of editors and senior jourlists of the city-based print and electronic media groups and sought suggestions from them.

Munda admitted that the Forest department has not been able to check poaching of rhinos in Kaziranga tiol Park despite several initiatives.

The editors and senior jourlists suggested that the number of frontline staff should be increased in KNP, posts of casual employees of the park should be made permanent to boost their morale, and the people living in Kaziranga fringe villages should be taken into confidence by the park authorities to jointly tackle rhino poaching. They demanded a probe into the nexus, if any, between a section of park officials and poachers.

They suggested that the government should set up a battalion by including youths living in the fringe villages. They also suggested that a second line defence system should be put in place to save rhinos in the park. Another suggestion made was that land belonging to the 2nd, the 3rd, the 5th and the 6th additions of the park should be immediately handed over to the park authorities after a detailed discussion between the Forest department and the Revenue Department in presence of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. All the encroachers living in these additions of the park, should be rehabilitated and provided adequate compensation.

The participating jourlists requested the Forest department to make the Diphulu river bank free from human habitation.

A strict mechanism should be instituted to regulate the construction of big structures around the park for commercial purposes, they proposed.

The existence of a large number of stone quarries, many of which are uuthorized, near the park area that also falls in Karbi Anglong, was highlighted in the meeting. These stone quarries, according to the jourlists, are posing a grave threat to the park’s ecology.

The Forest minister told the participating jourlists that the State government has submitted a proposal titled ‘Project Rhino’ to the Central government for its approval. He said that the rhino population in the park was 2,329 as per the 2013 rhino census, and another rhino census will be conducted this year.

To check duplication of rhino horns allegedly by some corrupt forest officials for selling the same at high prices to poachers, Munda said the Forest department is planning to do D profiling of recovered rhino horns to avoid duplication. “There are 1,650 rhino horns currently in the possession of the Forest department,” he informed.

According to the State Forest Department, 27 rhinos were killed in 2013, 27 in 2014 and 5 till date this year in the Kaziranga tiol Park.

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