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Top official transferred

- AASU burns rakibul effigy for rhino killings

Jorhat, Feb. 5: Dispur today transferred a senior Kaziranga forest official in the wake of unabated poaching of rhinos.

DFO, Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, D.D. Gogoi, who looks after Kaziranga, has been transferred to Guwahati wild-life division while S.K. Seal Sarma, divisional forest officer, Guwahati wildlife division, has been sent to Kaziranga.

Nine rhinos have been killed in Assam this year, which has led to concern and protests at different levels.

A statement issued by the WWF said the increasing use of sophisticated weapons by the poachers to kill rhinos is a worsening trend as many of the rhinos killed this year in Assam were gunned down by AK rifles.

It called for strengthening of intelligence networks and a dedicated wing set up for the same, if necessary

The AASU today burnt effigies of forest minister Rakibul Hussain and demanded his resignation in protest against the unabated killing of rhinos.

AASU president (Jorhat district unit) Biren Saikia said the government has miserably failed in protecting the rhinos and if immediate steps were not taken to prevent the rampant killings, rhinos would soon become extinct. He said the government should give top priority to protection of rhinos, a prized possession of the state.

While the AASU staged protest rallies, a Kaziranga National Park official said several rhinos have strayed out of the park and could be targeted by poachers, as it was very difficult to keep track of the animals.

“Several rhinos have strayed out of the park recently and are grazing in different locations along the banks of the Brahmaputra; we are trying our best to chase back these rhinos to the park but it is a very difficult job,” the official said.

The carcass of the horn-less rhino, which had crossed the Brahmaputra from the park and entered the north bank, was recovered only yesterday from Lahorijan in Sonitpur district.

The park official said a few rhinos are grazing at the Kukrakata reserve forest, which is adjacent to Karbi Anglong, and there was a possibility of these rhinos straying out to the district.

A couple of days back, Kaziranga authorities had held a meeting with the Karbi Anglong district administration to work out strategies to check rhino killings. The meeting was attended by commissioner (hills) Ariz Ahmed.

The park authorities would also hold a joint meeting with the police administration of Sonitpur on Friday to launch a joint operation along the Brahmaputra, where, it is believed, several poachers are taking shelter at present. The meeting would be attended by deputy inspector-general of police (Northern range) Apurba Jiban Baruah.