NEW DELHI, March 17 � Admitting that rhino poaching in the Kaziranga National Park is a big problem, Union Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar said the government has taken a slew of pro-active measures, disclosing that a comprehensive Bill amending the Wildlife Protection Act is being introduced in the Parliament.
In a discussion in the Lok Sabha this morning, Javadekar said poaching is a big problem. �But let us also understand that wildlife-human conflict is also on the rise because we have just 2.5 per cent of the land mass and in 17 per cent of the world, we have cattle and other population,� he said, but added that it does not justify anything.
�Poaching has to be stopped. Therefore, the Wildlife Crime Bureau and the government have taken pro-active measures. I have visited Kaziranga, where we are creating a Rhino Protection Force with the assistance of the State of Assam. The Rhino Task Force has submitted a report,� he said.
�We have an insurance scheme for the forest guards. �Friends of Rhino� is a new movement we have created. We are doing time monitoring. As far as rhino poaching is concerned, we have made so many efforts in the last three months,� said Javadekar.
Further, in encounters, more than 22 poachers were killed last year. �So, we are taking a lot of action. As far as the tiger is concerned, that is entirely different.�
Admitting that existing legal provisions were inadequate, the Environment and Forest Minister said a single-horned rhino fetches the poachers Rs 1 crore. �It is a huge trade. All illegal trade has to be banned. Therefore, presently we have a Bill to amend the Wildlife Protection Act. Some amendments were proposed by the earlier government, but we thought that it needs a comprehensive review and we must make it stricter, take comprehensive action, and the punishment must be severe. Therefore, we will come to you soon. In fact, you have already given permission,� Javadekar said.
About man-animal conflict, Javadekar said various comprehensive measures were being taken to avoid such conflicts. �We have to ensure zero conflict. We cannot lose our precious lives, human or otherwise. Compensation is one part of the story, but that does not suffice. Better habitat management, trenching and providing wildlife a separate habitat are must. We should ensure that they do not cross easily. That is the first step. We have various scientific solutions depending on the topography of the forest.�