Aaranyak, a society for biodiversity conservation, on Friday urged the Assam government not to take dehorning of rhinos as a measure to protect them from poachers. It cautioned that dehorning would only deflect the problem. It also called for the setting up of fast track court to ensure that arrested poachers were brought to justice through speedy trial.

“Dehorning is not the ultimate solution to check poaching; it is only a strategy to buy time used by African countries. Rather, we suggest selecting sub-adult rhinos with limited horn growth for translocation,” said Aaranyak secretary-general Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, who is also the chair of the IUCN Asian Rhino Specialist Group. The Assam government recently constituted an expert committee to explore the possibilities of adopting dehorning as a measure to curb poaching.

Aaranyak also urged political parties and candidates for the Lok Sabha polls to make their stand clear on wildlife and forest conservation in Assam and the steps they would initiate to ensure protection of rhinos and other species along with their habitats.

Training for guards

Dr. Talukdar urged the government to take proactive measures, including intelligence gathering and combat training for forest guards and range officers manning Kaziranga and other rhino-bearing national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

Poachers killed and dehorned 41 rhinos in 2013 and 21 in 2012, and have dehorned eight since the beginning of the year. The Gauhati High Court on March 4 asked the Director of Kaziranga National Park M.K. Yadava to submit a detailed report within two months suggesting effective and remedial steps to curb the poaching of rhinos in the national park.

The court expressed concern over incidents of rhino poaching and said in the judgment on a Public Interest Litigation plea that “the same must be stopped at the earliest to save nature’s most priceless and precious endangered species.”