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Firepower to protect rhinos

- Kaziranga guards get SLRs, ammo
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi hands over a rifle to a forest guard in Dispur on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, Oct. 16: Dispur today added firepower and deployed experienced hands at Kaziranga National Park to take on poachers who have killed 16 rhinos so far this year.

The step follows unabated rhino poaching and loud protests by various organisations.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi handed over 50 self-loading rifles and ammunition provided by the home department to the personnel of Assam Forest Protection Force and additional forces at a function held outside the state secretariat complex here today. Another 150 SLRs and more ammunition will be handed over soon. This is the first time that SLRs are being inducted into the Assam Forest Protection Force.

Gogoi hoped that reinforcement of forces armed with sophisticated weapons would strengthen security in all the 152 camps inside Kaziranga. “The forest personnel with their sophisticated weapons will be able to match the firepower of poachers and help to protect the rhinos in their natural habitats,” he said. The department has also requisitioned forest department officials who have earlier worked in Kaziranga to help the present management. They are C. Bhobora, Dharanidhar Boro, K.K. Deuri, D. Kalita, Pradipta Barua, A. Rahman and Pankaj Sarma. They will be stationed in Kaziranga until further orders.

D.D. Boro had worked in Kaziranga as a ranger for more than two decades and has a lot of experience in dealing with poachers. “I am ready to work there. I will first have to study the situation,” he told The Telegraph.

Gogoi said the government would bring out a white paper on the measures taken towards conservation in Kaziranga, including anti-poaching steps and an action plan, as demanded by the AGP.

“No other government has taken measures that has led to conservation success in Kaziranga National Park and brought Manas National Park back from the brink of extinction,” he added.

Minister for environment and forests Rakibul Hussain said the deployment of forest and additional forces armed with sophisticated weapons would strengthen security inside the park. “The deployment of forest battalion and additional forces in the 152 camps of Kaziranga and posting of experienced officials will augment security in the park.”

He said 100 additional security personnel had already been deployed in Kaziranga in the past two days, the park’s guards were being trained to use sophisticated weapons and the government would take firm steps against the poachers. He welcomed today’s Supreme Court ruling that allows tourism in at least 20 per cent of the core areas of tiger reserves.


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