Jorhat, Feb. 10: The Kaziranga National Park staff and the forest department personnel of Jorhat and Golaghat divisions have launched a joint drive to track down another rhino that strayed out of the park a few days back.
This is the second such incident in the past 14 days after a male rhino had strayed out of Kaziranga and moved towards the eastern side along the Brahmaputra saporis (sand bars) in the last week of January, which died from injuries received from bullets fired by poachers, despite efforts by park and forest staff to drive it back. However, the poachers failed to take away the horn.
The forest department is under severe strain following last year’s mayhem when 21 rhinos fell to poachers’ bullets and this year the toll has already reached nine with seven killed in and around Kaziranga, one in Morigaon and another in Manas National Park.
Kaziranga director N.K. Vasu told The Telegraph today that efforts were on to track the rhino, which strayed out from the park about three days back. He said apart from two park teams carrying out search operations in the north and eastern sides of Kaziranga, especially in the sand bars, another two teams from Jorhat and Golaghat divisions were also involved in the drive.
He said armed teams have been camping at different saporis and have been able to find fresh footprints of the animal and were coordinating with each other to locate the rhino, which is believed to be in moving to and fro along the sand bars.
Jorhat forest range officer Pankaj Kalita said that gaonburahs (village headmen) of villages at saporis have been alerted about the rhino and asked to report if any unknown persons moved in a suspicious manner or asked them about the sighting of a rhino.
Vasu said an operation was under way by police and park officials at Kukurakata area of Burapahar range of the park since last night after some movement of poachers was reported in the area.
The park director said a meeting between park, forest and police officials was held on Friday at the office of deputy inspector-general of police (northern range), Apurba Jiban Baruah, in Tezpur, the headquarters of Sonitpur district, where it was proposed to hold joint operations in the riverine areas near the park to nab poachers reportedly camping there.
Vasu said another such meeting will be held on February 16 at Tezpur, in which the officers-in-charge of police stations of the concerned districts and forest officers of different ranks will finalise the plan of action.