Assam Forest and Environment Minister Rockybul Hussain told that “There are 2,505 rhinos in the state now and the target is to reach the 3,000 mark by 2020.”
He said that “Since the forest guards earlier did not have the power to use sophisticated weapons, they could not combat with the poachers/militants armed with modern weapons.”
“But now that the act has been amended, they will be able to use arms like Self-Loading Rifle (SLR), revolvers, machine guns and AK-47 and put a stiff resistance to fight.”
The state government had in April this year amended the Forest Act to give the State Forest Force powers on the line of the police and to allow them to use state-of-the-art arms.
Hussain termed as positive the decision of International Union for Conservation of Nature to list rhinos in Kaziranga National Park in the ‘endangered’ category in 2008 and in the helpless category recently.