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Varsity for global rhino conservation effort

Jorhat, Jan. 31: Kaziranga University has decided to create global awareness about rhino conservation by using its connections with educational institutions across the world as part of its Save Rhino campaign launched last year.

The varsity is also organising a prize-money walkathon for the second time to protect the “pride of Assam” on February 9. The walkathon will start from Jorhat Court Field and end on the university’s premises on the western outskirts of the town.

Vice-president of the North-Eastern Knowledge Foundation (the body which runs the university), Anil Saraf, told The Telegraph today that the university would carry on the campaign to save rhinos from poachers.

“The rhino is our state animal and since our university is named after Kaziranga, we are more duty-bound to contribute to the campaign to save the animal from the bullets of poachers,” Saraf said.

According to the forest department, last year poachers killed 41 rhinos in Assam, of which 28 were in Kaziranga.

Saraf said the university was planning to carry out a sustained awareness campaign against poaching at the global level so that nations across the world launch a massive crack down on illegal trade of rhino horns.

The university is holding talks with several educational institutions in the UK, Singapore and US for collaborations and exchange programmes, Saraf said.

Already, the varsity has tie-ups with six reputed universities and this year another joint venture with an Australian university is expected to be signed.

“We hope a global campaign will be carried out for rhinos on the lines of the initiative carried out in the seventies by African countries to protect African elephants,” the vice-president of the university body said.

He said the campaign to protect the jumbos had yielded results because nations across the world came together to prevent smuggling and trade of elephant tusks and massive awareness campaigns had been launched.

“Our partner universities have assured us that they would to do their best in this effort,” Saraf said.

Member-secretary of the university, Basant Khetan, said if the myths surrounding rhino horns having medicinal values could be busted internationally then the demand for the horn would naturally come down.

The February 9 walkathon will create awareness at the local level, Khetan said.

After the tremendous response last year, when over 3,000 people participated, the total prize-money has been raised to about Rs 1 lakh this year. Competitions will be organised in the men, women and children’s categories.

Kaziranga University was established in 2011 and is the third private varsity in the state and first in Upper Assam.