Jorhat, Sept. 30: The top priority of the new director of Kaziranga National Park, N.K. Vasu, is to reduce the trust deficit between the people residing in the fringe areas and the staff to check poaching incidents.
Speaking to The Telegraph today over phone, Vasu, who assumed charge last night, said he planned to launch a campaign to develop closer contact between people of the surrounding villages (numbering over 100) and the park staff to prevent poaching.
The post of the director was upgraded to the rank of chief conservator of forests in the aftermath of the recent rhino killings.
Vasu, who was Kaziranga director earlier for several years, said the interaction between people and park staff required revamp to take on poachers, who generally come from distant areas, but get active cooperation from locals.
“Without the information on the movement of animals and shelter from the local villagers, the poachers cannot operate at such a rate,” the director said.
“Since I know the topography of Kaziranga, which has a large number of waterbodies and the Brahmaputra flowing on the north with a lot of chaporis (sand bars) on it and the Karbi Anglong hills on the southern side, the sincere cooperation of villagers could turn the tables,” Vasu said.
He said a series of meetings would be organised with the locals to hear their views and take them into confidence to evolve a mechanism to supplement the already existing protection measures at the World Heritage Site.
Vasu said he would also review the present park management system and the security apparatus.
On the other hand, staff deployed inside the park feel that increase in the population of rhinos in recent times owing to “good conservation efforts” over the years was one of the causes of rise in poaching as animals had been straying out frequently even when there is no flood.
The park now has 2,201 rhinos, an increase of over 1,000 since 1999.
Sources also said the poachers nowadays are adopting a new method to kill the animal by driving the rhinos out of the park by firing in the air and then shooting them down after they come out.