Guwahati: Days after Assam’s Kaziranga National Park strike the headlines following confusion in poaching of the one-horned rhinos, the Assam government has determined to rush a 100-member team of the elite Assam Forest Protection Force (AFPF) for the protection of the rare animal.
Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain on Tuesday said that a 50-member team of the AFPF had already been dispatched to the national park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. He added that an additional 50 personnel of the elite force would be sent to the park within this week.
Hussain confirmed that 39 rhinos had died in the state in 2012 due to floods and poaching.
The deaths of one-horned rhinos in Assam came to the forefront just after suspected poachers killed 7 rhinos last week in and around the park and chopped off their horns. At least two rhinos were alive when their horns were chopped off.
The spate in rhino killings had forced the Assam government to call for a CBI investigation into the cases of poaching over the last three years. The government had announced that the army and central part military forces will be deployed in areas neighbouring the national park to foil the attempts of poachers.
Hussain slammed claims of opposition parties like the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and said they were trying to drag up the issue of bad forest management.
He also refused the charges levelled by the AGP and the BJP that the state government is helping illegal migrants to settle inside the buffer zone of the park to boost the Congress vote bank.
Hussain said that “Bad weather prevented the IAF chopper from lifting the animal. The IAF had tried to lift the animal on Monday”, and adding that the forest department is providing the rhino with food and a team of doctors is monitoring its health.