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Bad roads force closure of safari

- Kaziranga jeep association moots hiring members for park security

Jorhat, May 21: The jeep safari at Kaziranga National Park has been suspended from today, 10 days ahead of the scheduled closure, owing to bad condition of roads.

A park official said heavy rain in the last few days has damaged the roads inside the park making them unsuitable for travelling.

“We had no option but to close down the park for tourists this season,” the official said.

Elephant safari has already been closed down on May 1.

Punen Gogoi, an official of the Kaziranga Jeep Safari Association, said following pressure from the tourists, park authorities had given permission to run the jeep safari till May 31 but the service had to be stopped owing to bad road conditions.

Last year, the jeep safari was closed down on May 1 along with the elephant safari.

There are about 180 jeeps, mostly Maruti Gypsies, which ferry tourists inside the national park in all four ranges — Kohora, Bagori, Agaratoli and Burapahar.

Gogoi said the members of the association have to wait till the next season, which starts on November 1, to resume service. “Our members would now repair their vehicles and prepare them for the next season. Most of the members would be engaged in farming activities during the off-season,” he said.

The official, on the other hand, said roads inside the park should be made broader and higher so that these could supplement as highlands where animals could take shelter during the floods.

“Higher and broader roads would ensure these would remain intact during floods and would act as a shelter for animals,” he said.

On the other hand, the poacher killed in an encounter with forest guards at the park a few days back, has been identified as Thaneswar Hazarika of Dhalpur in Lakhimpur district.

A police official at Bokakhat police station said family members of Hazarika, 53, identified his body yesterday. The poacher, along with three accomplices, had killed a rhino at the Bagori range of the park, before he was killed in a gun battle with forest guards. The horn was recovered from his possession.

Gogoi said there has been a demand from the association that its members be engaged in security activities during the off-season to protect the rhinos.

“Since most of the members of the association are local youths, they know Kaziranga like the palm of their hand. These youths could provide security to the park, if not inside, on the periphery,” he said.

He said more guard camps should be set up on the periphery of the national park where these youths could be engaged as casual workers to provide security to the animals.


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