Jorhat, Aug. 10: A group of poachers fired upon forest guards at Dibru-Saikhowa National Park last night resulting in a 15-minute gun battle. The poachers, however, managed to give the guards the slip under cover of darkness.
Forest personnel recovered two country boats, foodstuff and tarpaulins this morning from the encounter site — a natural highland in the national park, which is spread across Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts of Assam.
Divisional forest officer of the park, V. Mathur, said the group of poachers entered the park late last evening by crossing the Dibru river in two country boats. “A patrol party comprising forest guards and Assam Forest Protection Force personnel accosted the group near the Kolia anti-poaching camp. The poachers fired upon the forest guards and a gun battle ensured, lasting for about 15 minutes.”
He said though the poachers escaped, forest guards recovered the boats, foodstuff, tarpaulins and explosive crackers along with lead shots in a search operation launched early this morning.
“Recovery of the lead shots indicated that elephants were the prime targets of the poachers but they would have also killed deer. The encounter site lies on a highland, from where floodwater drains out first allowing grass to grow. It is a natural tendency for wild herbivores to move to such higher ground for food and shelter,” Mathur said.
Floodwater inundated a large portion of the national park during the recent floods.
The official said going by the fact that camping material (tarpaulins), utensils and rations were recovered from the encounter site, the group had planned to camp inside the park for a few days. “The food material recovered is sufficient to feed at least six to seven persons for three to four days.”
He said investigations had revealed that the group of poachers had come from Kordoiguri village under Doomdooma forest range by crossing the river. “Investigations are on, and we will apprehend the culprits soon.”