Wildlife authorities in Assam state, India, have begun the fightback against the rhino poachers of the Kaziranga National Park where 9 one-horned rhinos have been killed so far this year. Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain signed of an extra 300 rangers for the park and cleared the way for a shoot-on-sight policy.
Kaziranga is nearing the completion of a major restructuring of its management. The park has now been split into 4 new zones each with its own headquarters to be able to provide quicker responses to poaching incidents.
At the ceremony to sign over the new 300 rangers from the Assam Forest Protection Force to the national park Hussain said, “We have also decided to enforce shoot-at-sight inside the park to deal with the poachers, who often intrude into the park to kill rhinos for their horns.” [pullquote]We have also decided to enforce shoot-at-sight inside the park to deal with the poachers, who often intrude into the park to kill rhinos for their horns.[/pullquote]
He also said that the central environment and forest ministry has cleared the proposal to bring in an unmanned drone to watch over the rhinos. The drone will be introduced once the home and defence ministries have also cleared the plan. They are also waiting for permission from the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry for flight clearance. The drone will be provided by the central Indian government.
The minister also announced plans to boost intelligence networks in and around the park and also said that the forest guards wil shortly be receiving their new hi-tech AK-47 rifles to help them in their task.
To get a better picture of the current state of the rhino population in Kaziranga National Park – a World Heritage Site – the ministry will be conducting a new rhino census in the park once the rainy season comes to an end at the end of next month.