The Telegraph
Thursday , March 13 , 2014
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Play cricket, save rhinos

Jorhat, March 12: Cricket, the country’s most popular sport, is set to play its role in the conservation of rhinos at Kaziranga National Park.

A few youths from near the park will organise a cricket tournament to congregate youths from different parts of Assam to spread awareness about protecting the state animal. “Since cricket is the most popular sport in this region we have taken the opportunity to use the game in a bid to gather youths through the tournament. Awareness about the protection of rhinos would be spread through it,” Bitupan Saikia, president of the organising committee of Kaziranga Premier League, told The Telegraph today.

The three-day tournament, held for the first time, would begin from March 18 at the Kohora High School playground near the national park where documentaries on conservation of rhinos and other denizens of Kaziranga would be shown to the participants.

“There would also be lectures about rhino conservation by experts at the beginning and at the end of the matches,” Saikia said.

The forest department and various NGOs engaged with the national park have sponsored the tournament. Winners would be given a cash prize of Rs 25,000 apart from a free jeep safari inside the park.

The second-placed team would get a cash prize of Rs 15,000 apart from the free jeep safari trip. Saikia said cricket has been used as the medium to attract the youths across the state, especially those from the districts near the national park, namely Golaghat, Karbi Anglong, Sonitpur, Nagaon and Jorhat.

“Since rhinos stray to these nearby districts frequently, youths from these districts could play a crucial role in their protection. Experts would also apprise the members of the participating teams about the do’s and don’ts when rhinos from Kaziranga stray into their areas,” Saikia said.

A Kaziranga official said such a congregation of youths would be of great help in the conservation of rhinos, where they could be made aware about various aspects of rhino conservation.

“The incidents of rhinos being attacked by villagers and rhinos attacking villagers could be avoided where youths can play a crucial role. The recent incident where a villager was killed in a rhino attack at Majuli could have been avoided if the villagers would have left the rhino alone. Youths can play their part in this regard,” he said.

The official said the participants would also be requested to help the forest department in checking rhino poaching at Kaziranga by providing information regarding poachers.

“We would be providing the phone numbers of forest officials to the participants and would request the youths to keep in touch for any information about poachers,” the official said.

The youths, he said would also be made aware about the do’s and don’ts when animals from the park stray during floods.