Alipurduar, Aug. 17: Forest minister Binoy Krishna Barman has called a meeting of senior forest officers in Calcutta tomorrow to discuss the discovery of carcasses of two rhinoceroses without horns in a span of 72 hours in Jaldapara National Park.
The decomposed body of an adult male rhino had been spotted in BD-6 compartment of the park on Tuesday and the horn was missing. The foresters ruled out the possibility of poaching and said the animal had died a natural death.
On Friday morning, another adult rhino was found dead without the horn in the north range of the national park. V.K. Sood, the chief conservator of forest, wildlife (north), said the animal was suspected to have been killed by hunters to claim the horn.
Minister Barman said today: “I have asked forest officers to submit a report (on the death of two rhinos) by this evening. I have called a meeting of forest officers at Aranya Bhavan tomorrow. I will ask them to take strong action. The poaching has to be stopped immediately with the help of villagers.”
Sood said the animal found dead on Friday had been killed by hunters. “This is a suspected case of poaching as the horn of the animal is missing. But we are yet to confirm how the rhino was killed. We are collecting information. Today, we (foresters) will sit together and submit a report to the forest minister,” he said today.
Environmentalists and a section of forest employees claim that poaching has become rampant in Jaldapara because of lack co-or-ordination between foresters and the local people.
“When poachers were stalking Jaldapara in the mid-80s, the number of rhinos had come down to 14. Later, the forest staff built a network with people living in adjacent villages and managed to get rid of hunters. But in the recent past, the relations have deteriorated and the foresters have to take the initiative to co-ordinate with the villagers to thwart crimes,” said a forest officer.