| Two smugglers caught by Manja police for smuggling rhino skins and horns . Picture by UB Photos
Jorhat/Guwahati, Feb. 4: Not a day seems to go by without news of rhino killing. The decomposed carcass of yet another rhino, its horn missing, was recovered today, taking the toll to nine so far this year.
The male rhino, which strayed out of Kaziranga National Park, is suspected to have been killed by poachers a few days ago, going by the decomposed state of the carcass.
Kaziranga director N.K. Vasu told The Telegraph that the carcass, with its horn missing, was recovered this morning from Lahorijan under Biswanath Chariali subdivision of Sonitpur district, close to the northern range of the park on the north bank of the Brahmaputra.
Vasu said the park staff has been on alert on the northern side as there was information about movement of poachers along the Brahmaputra, especially in the saporis (sandbars) where rhinos often stray out.
Senior police and forest officials will meet at the office of deputy inspector-general of police (northern range) Apurba Jiban Baruah in Tezpur, the headquarters of Sonitpur district, on Friday to draw up a detailed plan to carry out operations in the riverine areas near the park to nab poachers reportedly camping there.
Baruah, who also has the charge of superintendent of police, Sonitpur district, said once the panchayat elections in the district, slated for Wednesday, are over, the police will carry out a full-fledged operation with the forest staff.
AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta today ruled out any political conspiracy behind the recent spate of rhino poaching, as claimed by chief minister Tarun Gogoi.
He alleged that by floating the conspiracy theory, Gogoi was actually trying to divert attention from his government’s failure to protect rhinos.
“Gogoi’s ministerial colleague and forest minister Rakibul Hussain is himself involved and has an unholy nexus with poachers. Some other Congress leaders are also involved in the dirty trade. Gogoi’s demand of a CBI inquiry is a farce and a ridiculous proposition,” he said.
Activists of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) blocked National Highway 37 at Kohora in Kaziranga National Park for over an hour to protest against the rhino killings. They shouted slogans against the forest minister and also burnt his effigy.
Of the nine rhinos killed this year, seven have been killed in and around Kaziranga, one in Morigaon and one in Manas. The poachers could not take away the horns of two rhinos.