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Rediff News  All News  » News » Assam: CBI inquiry into rhino poaching demanded

Assam: CBI inquiry into rhino poaching demanded

May 01, 2008 19:08 IST

Rhino poachers have let loose a fresh reign of terror in two rhino habitats in Assam killing 10 rhinos so far this year, including six the last fortnight, dodging the security arrangements in Kaziranga National Park in eastern Assam and Rajiv Gandhi National Park at Orang in north Assam.

As the state Wildlife and Forest Department's all 'efforts to gear up vigil in the habitats of endangered one-horned Asiatic rhinoceros' has come to a naught, the All Assam Students Union alleging nexus between rhino poachers and a section of people in power in the state has demanded an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation into incidents of rhino poaching in the state.

The AASU has also called for statewide protests on May 3 against the killing of the precious one-horned rhinos in the state and condemed the failure of the state government to tackle the menace that has assumed an alarming proportion since last year.

The AASU members will demonstrate before all district forest offices their protest against rhino poaching incidents.

The AASU has demanded action from Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi against the Forest and Wildlife Minister Rockybul Hussain for failing to protect the rhino, the crowning jewel among the wildlife resources in the state.

A source in the Wildlife department informed that New Delhi has taken strong exception to rhino poaching in Assam wildlife habitats and directed the state government to take all possible steps to put an end to the menace that has so far claimed lives of over 30 rhinos since last year.

Meanwhile, Assam government has deployed 25 additional armed home guards to Rajiv Gandhi National Park at Orang, which has become the latest soft target for poachers in the absence of adequate security personnel.

Wildlife policing in the 78.82 sq km Rajiv Gandhi Park on the north Bank of Brahmaputra River is severely handicapped by shortage of wildlife staff.

Only three persons on an average guard an anti-poaching camp in the park against the prescribed minimum manpower requirement of 12 personnel.

In the wake of the latest killings of rhinos, the State Wildlife and Forest Department has transferred District Forest Officer Bankim Sharma from Kaziranga National Park. It has appointed four additional wildlife rangers in the famous rhino abode.

The state government has also constituted a nine-member fact-finding team comprising experts and headed by the state's chief wildlife warden.

The team will visit rhino habitats in Kaziranga, Orang and Pobitora wildlife sanctuaries in the state to take stock of security measures and will suggest 'additional' measures to ensure proper protection of faunal resources.

K Anurag in Guwahati