GUWAHATI, Oct 1 – Appalled at the spurt in rhino poaching in and around Kaziranga National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – 40 NGOs engaged in environment and wildlife conservation today staged a sit-in demonstration in the city to protest the unabated killing of the precious pachyderms. The organizations dashed a memorandum to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, seeking his intervention in ensuing foolproof protection measures to save the rhino from poachers in Kaziranga, the largest refuge of the one-horned rhino.
They also called for immediately bringing the vulnerable area of concern where rhinos were being poached in Karbi Anglong under the jurisdiction of the KNP authorities. All the organizations spoke in unison against the incidents of poaching and lamented the total failure of the existing system in the enforcement of law to ensure protection of rhinos in Kaziranga.
The organizations demanded that there should be immediate action by the authorities to curb the ongoing poaching and nab the poachers. The organizations also demanded that the issue should not be politicized, but rather constructive steps should be taken to put an end to the poaching.
All the NGOs were unanimous that there was a serious lacuna in establishing collaboration with the neighbouring Karbi Anglong Autonomous District Council (KAADC) authorities to provide protection to Kaziranga animals and intensify patrolling on the southern side of the park bordering Karbi hills as well as along the riverine stretch to the north direction.
“The KNP authorities have not learnt lessons about the previous spell of poaching that took place in June 2012… the Forest Department has miserably failed to elicit support from the people of the fringe areas towards conservation efforts,” the NGOs said, adding that the fringe inhabitants of Kaziranga must be taken into consideration through a participatory approach to facilitate fast gathering of intelligence to nab the poachers.
The NGOs called for the following measures to be taken in the long-term interests of conservation in Kaziranga — building of adequate number of scientific highlands for shelter of flood-hit animal in KNP; strengthening the intelligence network system; filling up of all vacancies of all frontline staff in KNP; recruitment of locals as rangers and ACFs through direct recruitment from local people; establishing better coordination with the KAADC and State Forest Department with particular emphasis on wildlife protection in the foothills bordering Kaziranga ; setting up of more well-equipped anti-poaching camps in Karbi Anglong.’
The NGOs also called for proper pursuing of all cases pending in the courts against poachers by the Forest Department and police so that no bail is granted to poachers.
“There is a need to ensure a high rate of conviction, and accountability should be introduced within the authority which is responsible for protection of our natural heritage. Exemplary action should be taken against lapses on part of forest officers responsible for preventing rhino poaching,” they said.