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Dibru-Saikhowa National Park becomes safe haven for smugglers

By Correspondent

DOOMDOOMA, March 22 - Dibru-Saikhowa National Park situated in Tinsukia district of upper Assam, which is said to be home to various species of flora and fauna, has now become a safe haven for poachers. This can be gauged from the available statistics. The forest personnel of Tinsukia Wildlife division rescued six feral horses on February 28 near the NH-37 bypass at Makum while being transported in a truck (AS 01JC - 0457) with a tag of army duty.

Four persons, including two ex-Army personnel, including Subedar Khagen Baishya and Arun Pal Singh, a horse trainer of the Indian Navy, driver Rafiqul Islam and the handyman Abdul Kalam were nabbed and sent to judicial custody. However, the forest staff failed to nab the main alleged kingpin in this regard.

The rescued horses were later released in Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in the presence of the senior forest officials, WTI veterinarian, environmentalists and honorary district wildlife warden.

According to information, one Seril Murah of the Ananta Nallah, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, ferried two of his trained horses to an under-construction hospital campus at Laopoti Phulbari Gaon under Talap outpost of Doomdooma PS, where the feral horses were allegedly captured by him along with his accomplices from the national park and were being trained by Arun Pal Singh after a huge monetary deal.

The DFO of Tinsukia Wildlife Division, Rajendra Singh Bharti informed the local scribes that the forest personnel have been on the trail of all the persons, including the contractor of the hospital, allegedly involved in the smuggling of horses who had gone underground.

The DFO also said that due to shortage of forest staff, the field personnel had to be deployed in ministerial work which resulted in hindrance in the crime-related investigation process.

This is not the only incident of feral horses being smuggled from Dibru-Saikhowa National Park. Several such attempts were made previously. In 2009, 16 feral horses were taken away with �valid� documents and again in 2014 , two horses died in transit.

The magnificent feral horses are the pride of Dibru-Saikhowa National Park. This species is only available in some pockets of the park, both in Guijan and Saikhowa ranges and also in revenue areas like Shurke Chapori. Earlier, these feral horses never came closer to humans due to their wilderness, but due to encroachment of habitat and settlement of dairy farms, these horses were often seen grazing very close to settlement and became prey to poachers.

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