Students in Assam took to the streets earlier today and blocked the main road to Kaziranga National Park in a protest over the growing number of rhino falling victim to poachers. it was also announced today that the body of another rhino had been found just outside the park by a patrol of forest guards. This brings the total to 8 rhino lost since the start of the year.
The latest body was found near the Lahorijan forest beat office in Bishwanath Chariali at the northern edge of the national park.
“The rhino strayed out from Kaziranga National Park and poachers killed it. It was a male rhino and the horn was missing,” park director N.K. Vasu explained. [pullquote]We are calling for a CBI probe into the rhino killings… there could be a conspiracy behind the spurt in poaching, and we want a thorough probe into the developments. None would be spared if found guilty.[/pullquote]
Local information also suggested that the rhino, which had strayed from the park, had been spotted about a week ago and forest guards were sent to monitor it to ensure it’s safety. The guards appeared to have lost track of the rhino about 4 days ago as it moved back towards the park. The rhino then fell victim to the poachers.
Park officials have said that there are 900 security personnel including specialist units patrolling the park to try and bring the poaching under control though there are claims that the Assam forest guards have almost 50% of their positions currently unfilled.
Chief Minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi, has also called for the elite national Central Bureau of Investigation to mount a probe into the gowing problem of poachers. “We are calling for a CBI probe into the rhino killings… there could be a conspiracy behind the spurt in poaching, and we want a thorough probe into the developments. None would be spared if found guilty,” Gogoi said at a press
Specialist commandos have been assigned to the park to try to help support forest guards and the central Indian government has promised unmanned drones to the state to help with surveillance. Last week also saw a number of forest officials suspended or disciplined for dereliction of duty after 2 rhino were found dead.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) took to the streets today to show their disgust at the state governments failure to deal with the loss of rhinos. They blockaded the National Highway 37 near Kohora in Kaziranga. The ASSU were joined by other student groups in the protest.
In 2012 Assam lost about 40 one horn rhino to poachers with 21 being lost from the Kaziranga National Park. the park is home to the majority of the 3,000 remaining Indian rhino left in the wild.