Guwahati, Oct. 7: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today cautioned against overexploitation of Kaziranga National Park for tourism as it may have an adverse impact on its wildlife and ecology.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 59th Wildlife Week held at the auditorium of Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra, Gogoi sought a balance between tourism and preservation of the wildlife and ecology of the national park, which is home to the one-horned Indian rhinoceros.
Describing wildlife protection as a “challenge”, Gogoi expressed concern over the growing man-animal conflict because of increase in population of both humans and animals. To cope with this problem, the state government is taking steps like translocation of animals and expansion of forest areas.
He stressed the need to find out how many tourists Kaziranga, one of the most important tourist destinations in the state, can allow without causing any harm to the park and the animals.
Since Kaziranga was declared a tiger reserve in 2006, there has been pressure from the Centre to impose restrictions on the flow of tourists to the national park. There are, however, apprehensions that restrictions would hit the tourism industry, including business ventures such as luxury resorts and jeep safaris.
Referring to the mushrooming of resorts, hotels and lodges in and around Kaziranga, Gogoi said, “We need to ensure that the national park is not overexploited”.
He said the conservation efforts of the state government have led to a rise in wildlife population in the state and lauded the staff and officers of the forest department for this.
“The media must highlight the conservation success stories to boost the morale of the forest personnel who work under adverse conditions to protect the wildlife,” he added.
“If required, we will bring more stringent laws against poachers. The media must also help to create an atmosphere so that poachers are condemned, despised and hated for their heinous crimes,” Gogoi said.
“If we can bring insurgency under control, why not poaching?” he said.
He asked the forest department to showcase its conservation success stories in the past 12 years by making a documentary on it.
Forest minister Rakibul Hussain said the state government’s efforts at rhino conservation had earned appreciation from wildlife experts at the first Asian Rhino Conservation Conclave organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Indonesia recently. The second edition of the conclave will be held in Guwahati next year, he added.
Hussain said the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had approved installation of thermal and non-thermal cameras at vital locations in the park to keep a round-the-clock watch on the movement of poachers so that prompt action can be taken.
He said the electronic eye system at Kaziranga would work on the lines of Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand, where nine such cameras are installed.
“The surveillance and monitoring will be carried out from three control rooms which will be set up at Bokakhat (a town in Golaghat district), Guwahati and at the NTCA office in Delhi,” the minister added.
The sharp rise in rhino poaching in Kaziranga, a Unesco World Heritage site, has made it imperative for the forest department to seek the help of technology to contain poaching in the park.