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Job tonic to check rhino poaching

- Govt to seek central assistance on wildlife conservation measures

Guwahati, Sept. 2: Dispur will create employment opportunities for people living in the fringe areas of Kaziranga National Park in a bid to prevent rhino poaching.

Assam forest and environment minister Rakibul Hussain told reporters here this afternoon that many youths living in the periphery of the park were involved in wildlife conservation. He said once the government could create jobs for them in the park, they would be able contribute greatly in the safety and security of Kaziranga.

“The sense of belonging of these youths will be more since they have been seeing Kaziranga from the day they were born. I hope that poaching could be prevented with involvement of these youths. We will initially create 100 jobs for them. The nature of the jobs will be worked out soon,” Hussain said.

Hussain’s announcement came on a day when a rhino was killed and its horn taken away at Kukrakata hills in Burapahar range of Kaziranga, around 6.30am today. “Operations are on to arrest the poachers,” a park official said.

Union minister of state for environment and forests Prakash Javadekar will be visiting Assam from Thursday to take feedback from people, experts and officials about steps to protect wildlife in the state.

Though the BJP has said the main objective of Javadekar’s visit is to get a first-hand account of the reasons behind the spurt in rhino killings in the state, Hussain said a section of people wants to give a different colour to incidents of rhino poaching.

“The state government is taking up various steps, including constituting a task force and constructing towers to install electronic eyes to reduce poaching in the park. The forest department will make a PowerPoint presentation on the government measures to protect Kaziranga and other parks and wildlife sanctuaries before the Union minister,” Hussain said.

The Kaziranga authorities recently submitted a comprehensive report to Gauhati High Court suggesting erosion control, habitat improvement, extension of habitat, anti-poaching infrastructure upgrade, security and surveillance, adopting a landscape-based, green growth approach, better management strategies and creating several secure habitats outside Kaziranga for the rhinos to protect the world-famous animal from poachers.

The report has estimated that Rs 8,820.75 crore will be required in the next 10 years to implement some of the measures to save the rhinos.

Hussain said his department would also submit a memorandum to Javadekar seeking assistance and cooperation from the Centre to take various measures for wildlife conservation.