Guwahati, Oct 17 (IANS): The Assam government armed the personnel of the elite Assam Forest Protection Force (AFPF) with automatic weapons like Self Loading Rifles (SLRs) to match the fire power of poachers.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday handed 200 SLRs to the AFPF personnel at a function held in Assam capital Dispur and hoped that the reinforcement of forces armed with sophisticated weapons would further strengthen security in all the 152 camps inside the Kaziranga National Park.
"The forest personnel with their sophisticated weapons will be able to match the firepower of poachers and help to protect rhinos in their natural habitats," Gogoi said.
He added that the government had also taken up a slew of measures to make conservation successful in Kaziranga and Manas national parks.
"The population of rhinos, elephants and other wildlife has gone up in comparison to other parts of the country, thanks to the concerted efforts of forest officials and forest guards over the years," he said.
The chief minister also said that the government will bring out a White Paper on various measures taken towards conservation in Kaziranga National Park including anti-poaching measures and action plan as demanded by the opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).
"Our government's measures have lead to conservation success in Kaziranga and brought Manas back from the brink," he said and appealed to different organizations to join hands with the government in safeguarding wild animals in their natural habitats.
"The recent killings of rhinos in Kaziranga is a matter of serious concern for one and all. Our government has viewed it very seriously and would do everything to protect the rhinos and other wildlife from poachers as well as natural calamities like floods. We will plug all the loopholes to bring an end to poaching," Gogoi said.
State Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain, who was also present on the occasion, said that the deployment of forest battalion and additional forces armed with new arsenal would further beef up security inside the national park. "The forest battalion and additional forces that are being deployed in the 152 camps in all the ranges of Kaziranga coupled with posting of experienced officials will further augment security in the park," he added.
He said that 100 additional security personnel have already been deployed in Kaziranga in the past two days.