GUWAHATI, June 1 � A white paper on �Wildlife Conservation in Assam� was released by Forest and Environment Minister Rockybul Hussain here this evening.
The white paper, according to the Minister, is aimed at placing relevant facts about wildlife conservation in the right perspective.
Consistently put under scanner for unabated incidents of rhino poaching, Hussain exudes confidence on meeting the target population of 3,000 rhinos by 2020 (Indian Rhino Vision).
While the document puts the death toll of rhinos since 1985 at 756, the latest census (2013) put the rhino population in Assam at 2544, which include 2329 in the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) itself. In 2006, the overall population was 2006, of which 1855 were in the KNP.
In the last nine years, a total of 27 poachers were killed in encounters with forest personnel, while 198 were arrested.
Talking to mediapersons, Hussain said that the wildlife conservation process has been boosted with the amendment in the law, besides strengthening of the manpower.
�Rhino poaching is an international phenomenon and we are working wholeheartedly to stop it. It is because of this that we have sought help from experts from Nepal and even South Africa to help us meet the challenges,� the Minister said.
�When I took charge of the department, the one-horned rhino was tagged as an endangered species. But with its population increase, in spite of incidents of poaching, the endangered tag has been lifted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is now bracketed under the vulnerable category,� he said, throwing special emphasis on the success story of rhino translocation in the Manas National Park.
Similarly, as per the 2010 census, tiger population in Assam stands at 143.