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Minister holds out rhino hope

Guwahati, June 17: Assam forest minister Rakibul Hussain today said rhinos would soon be back at Laokhowa wildlife sanctuary.

Hussain said this during a function at the Singimari forest inspection bungalow in Nagaon where WWF India provided a support package which consists of logistics for 200 front line field staff of the parks in the form of motorcycles, bicycles, blankets, water filters, field shoes, binoculars and torches.

The rhino population at Laokhowa wildlife sanctuary was wiped out in 1983 when poachers killed 40 rhinos during the Assam Agitation. Laokhowa and Bura Chapori wildlife sanctuaries form an integral part of Kaziranga tiger reserve, considered a critical space to maintain the animal corridor connectivity between Kaziranga National Park and Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park.

The sanctuary is on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra with an area of 70.13 square km and is part of the Laokhowa-Bura Chapori ecosystem.

The Laokhowa-Bura Chapori wildlife sanctuary has been identified as a potential rhino habitat under the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 through translocation from Kaziranga National Park and Pobitora wildlife sanctuary.

Hussain in his speech stressed the eco-development works initiated in the fringe areas of these sanctuaries and requested the local communities to participate in the activities for their own development. He said he was pushing forward the plans for improvement of infrastructure of the sanctuary.

Chief wildlife warden Suresh Chand said the department had made all efforts for the improvement of these sanctuaries and would continue to do so. Speaking on the occasion, Anupam Sarmah, the head of Assam Landscapes of WWF, explained the importance of Laokhowa and Bura Chapori wildlife sanctuaries saying these sanctuaries as very critical and accords high priority to conservation support which is why the support package is being extended.

During the function, a quarterly magazine of Laokhowa Bura Chapori Wildlife Conservation Society and Nagaon wildlife division was released by the minister.