GUWAHATI, Jan 11 � In view of the recurring incidents of rhino poaching in Kaziranga National Park and the involvement of extremist outfits, the State Government has decided to engage the Army to assist the Forest Department in patrolling the national park.
This was decided after State Forest and Environment Minister Rakibul Hussain had a discussion with the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Assam, over today�s poaching incident at the Burhapahar Range of Kaziranga National Park in the wee hours today.
�As there is sufficient evidence of involvement of extremists and use of sophisticated arms, the Forest Minister has directed to call the Army to assist the Forests Department in Kaziranga National Park in patrolling and protection of the rhino. Necessary action has been initiated in this regard,� an official release said.
The famed Kaziranga National Park has lost three rhinos in quick succession within the first 11 days of the New Year. Another rhino was killed in Orang as well.
Kaziranga which has been grappling with the menace of rhino poaching for years witnessed a sharp rise in the incidence of poaching in 2013 and 2014. This is despite the fact that the park�s security had been augmented in the recent past with sufficient manpower induction.
Forest sources told The Assam Tribune said that matters worsened in the past few years with the active involvement of Karbi Anglong-based militant outfits in the nefarious racket of poaching and illegal sale of wildlife body parts in the international market.
�Since the forest personnel are not well-equipped to take on armed militants, the situation is having an adverse impact on rhino conservation. Unless a matching security mechanism is put in place, things are unlikely to ease,� a forest official wishing anonymity said.
Lack of adequate intelligence has been another factor weakening the fight against poachers. �Intelligence gathering is definitely a weak link in the existing security mechanism. Armed with prior information, it is easy to foil poaching bids but that is not happening,� he said, adding that intelligence must be enhanced by taking into confidence the local fringe area inhabitants.