Manas loses sixth rhino - Killings highlight need for increased security measures

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 30.10.13
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Guwahati, Oct. 29: Manas National Park, which got back its heritage tag in 2011, today lost its sixth rhino to poachers, endangering the process of re-establishment of the species here.

“The poachers fired three gunshots, killing a female rhino. A poacher has also been killed by the forest staff,” the park’s director, A. Swargiary, said.

The incident took place at 2.30pm at Bhuyanpara range and the carcass was recovered after a while.

The horn had been taken away and the post-mortem will be done tomorrow.

A source said the killing of the poacher, which took part in another area, is not linked to the killing of this rhino.

The female rhino was translocated from Pobitora wildlife sanctuary last year and had given birth to its first calf in Manas last year.

The World Heritage Committee early this year had said rhino poaching has been identified as a serious conservation threat at several world heritage sites.

It said the killing of the four translocated rhinos in Manas National Park has endangered the re-establishment of the species at this site.

The Bandar Lampung declaration in Indonesia, agreed upon by the rhino range states in Asia — Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal early this month — had stated that laudable initiatives such as Indian Rhino Vision, 2020 are being threatened by the increasing illegal demand for rhino horn.

“The incident once again brings to light the current state of protection measures in the park, which needs vast improvement,” rhino conservationist Bibhab Talukdar told The Telegraph.

“We have to see how we can fight this battle and the killings have to stop,” director, species and landscapes, WWF-India, Dipankar Ghose told The Telegraph.

Sources said the security at Manas National Park was discussed at the inter-departmental security co-ordination meeting recently, which was attended by forest department and police officials.

Discussions were held on the need to share intelligence between the district police, Sashastra Seema Bal and forest department; initiate temporary exchange of staff between Kaziranga and Manas; carry out intensive field patrolling and start mock drills for anti-poaching activities.

There are 15 members in the co-ordination committee and they decided to hold meetings every three months to share information vital to the safety of the park.

Sources said matters have become very difficult for authorities to handle in Manas after the alleged involvement of a conservation volunteer in rhino poaching and the exit of WWF because of the deteriorating law and order situation.

WWF had already expressed its concern to the state government on the safety of its officials and field staff working at the park and said it had never faced such a situation anywhere else in the country.