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Flood, poachers hit national parks Guards forced to vacate camps

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By RIPUNJOY DAS
  • Published 26.04.10
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Dibrugarh, April 25: Poachers are having a field day in the flood-affected Dibru-Saikhowa National Park after forest staff had reportedly vacated some of the anti-poaching camps set up in the interior areas of the national park with floods continuing to wreak havoc.

Sources said a group of poachers backed by criminals and some local villagers from Kordoiguri area under Doomdooma police station in Tinsukia district had been killing animals, mostly deer and wild boars, for the past couple of days, taking advantage of the situation.

Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, spread across a 765-square km area in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts, is also a biosphere reserve and considered one of the best in the world for its bio-diversity. The park, which houses several species of animals and around 400 species of residential as well as migratory birds, is also an ideal home for the endangered Gangetic river dolphin.

According to official records, the park has a 340-square km core zone under two ranges, namely Guijan and Saikhowa. There are 14 anti-poaching camps, including two floating camps set up on boats, to guard the park.

In the aftermath of the devastating floods, the situation has facilitated “unhindered’ sale of meat of the poached animals. Venison is being sold almost under the nose of the forest department officials, police and local administration in town areas like Tinsukia, Doomdooma and Rupai.

Besides venison, the sale of meat of wild boars and even wild buffaloes, had become a common sight in villages like Naokata, Ghilaguri, Laina, Tamuli and Borgora, Baghjan with a kilogram of such meat sold at prices between Rs 200 and Rs 250, a source said.

The park authorities generally take certain precautionary measures as the rainy seasons approaches. However, the devastating early monsoon floods this time have caught the staff off guard, following which forest guards had to be evacuated from their respective camps, the source said.

The condition of the camps like Baluchar, Kolomi, Kathalbam, Balijan, Kundaghat, Raidang had become critical because of the floods, the source added.

A delayed report today revealed by sources said on Friday, a poacher, Kalidas Das, who had entered the park through Doijan village under Saikhowa range along with two others was attacked by wild buffaloes and was killed on the spot while one of his associates was injured.

The gang had killed two wild boars and one deer after which it came across a herd of wild buffaloes that attacked them, a source said.

Alarmed by the “free-for-all” situation for poachers, environment groups have begun awareness drives in the Kordoiguri area by going door to door and urging people to help them curb poaching.

“Our volunteers have also started a poster campaign and organised village meetings to make the people aware, Ciranjeeb Gogoi, a member of Aaranyak, an NGO, said.

Park DFO Aniruddha Dey said some reports of poaching were being verified. “We are conducting patrols also, but the magnitude of the floods is such that it has become impossible for us to venture in some of the core areas,” Dey added.