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Special force to protect rhinos

Ninety constables get Appointment Letters

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal hands over an appointment letter to a constable in Guwahati on Wednesday. Picture by Manash Das

Guwahati: Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday gave appointment letters to 90 constables of the Special Rhino Protection Force (SRPF), adding teeth to the forces protecting one-horned rhino, the pride of Assam, in the state's national parks.

The setting up of the SRPF was announced in 2014.

The first 90 constables, after undergoing training, have been appointed from Golaghat, Karbi Anglong, Nagaon, Biswanath and Sonitpur districts.

The event was attended by minister of state for environment and forests Naba Kumar Doley, legal adviser to chief minister Santanu Bharali, MLA Rituporno Baruah, additional chief secretary, environment and forests, Alak Kumar besides a host of other dignitaries.

Sonowal said: "Strengthening the forest protection mechanism through regular appointments and imparting technical training to employees are essential to sustainable management of forests and environment conservation. Recruitments of the 90 youths as constables through a rigorous recruitment process will add teeth to our efforts for rhino protection. We have to protect our flora and fauna to maintain our status as a state with vast natural resources in the world map.

"The challenge from poachers has to be met. They were convicted of killing rhinos by the fast-track courts. The government is doing all it can, but it also the duty of people, especially those living on the fringes of the national parks, to protect the wildlife."

Sonowal said the government had devised a well laid-out mechanism for the constables' training using latest technology for their capacity building.

He also urged them to be disciplined, punctual and committed to take the protection measure to a great height. Sonowal said the constables would be awarded in recognition of their duty.

Doley said 250 Insas rifles, 320 assault rifles, 130 pump- action guns, 25 pistols and 4,500 cartridges had been bought to augment the firepower of forest guards.

"It is the duty of the state government to protect the one-horned rhino and this force will go a long way in fulfilling this objective. We have to consider every tree and animal in the Kaziranga National Park as our own. The number of rhinos is increasing. Their killings have decreased and only five rhinos have been killed this year. There are 2,643 rhinos in Assam and 2,113 are found in Kaziranga alone. Poachers are a big threat and 10 fast-track courts have been set up to try them. Seventy-five poachers were caught in 2017 and 24 this year out of which many have been convicted."

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