Kaziranga: Since June floods devastated Assam, animals trying to escape the rising waters in Kaziranga National Park have fallen prey to hunters, poachers and speeding vehicles. But there’s another danger, mostly to rhinos, that won’t recede with the water. It is from the armed militant separatist groups in the area.
The major clue to this came after the arrest of one Lindok Rongpi yesterday, who admitted before a magistrate that he poached 6 rhinos under the instructions of Songja Timung, self-styled defence secretary of Kuki National Liberation Front, one of the armed groups from Karbianglong in Assam, now in an armistice agreement.
His arrest leads the police to Dimapur in Nagaland, the hub of animal-parts trade, only to find that the major buyer, a Chinese named Ho-Chin who had fled.
The money militants make by poaching rhinos, they use it to acquire arms. Post-mortem of the animals disclose the use of automatic guns which further offers evidence of the involvement of militants, allowing for professional poachers use .303 rifles, rather than spraying bullets.
A World Wildlife Fund report evidently says that Kaziranga, with its 2,000 rhinos, is an area susceptible for increased poaching. Its proximity to the international border makes it an even easier target.
Lately, Minister for Environment and Forests Jayanti Natarajan was in Kaziranga to announce monetary grants and measures but the plan appeared too routine for any instant action.