Alarmed over rise in poaching of highly endangered one-horned rhinos in the Orang National Park in lower Assam, the government has decided to set up five anti-poaching camps to protect the animals.
Following an order of high-level probe by the State’s Forest Minister, Rockybul Hussain, chief conservator of forest, B S Bonal, D M Singh and deputy chief conservator of forest A S Laskar, accompanied by superintendents of police of Darrang and Sonitpur districts, visited the park on September 1.
After getting their report, the government has ordered setting up of five new anti-poaching camps in the current financial year along with two floating camps in the river.
Twenty armed home guards would be deployed and one assistant conservator of forest would be employed to supervise the anti-poaching measures, official sources said.
While transferring the present divisional forest officer and the ranger of the park, the government announced that in the line of the Kaziranga National Park, a coordination committee, comprising locals, district administration officials and the Army, would be formed.
Alarm bells started ringing after five rhinos were slaughtered inside the park this year. The park has only 64 of the endangered species, according to the last census.
In recent times poaching has become a critical issue with poachers were able to build links with some villagers residing in the vicinity of the park.
The problem was compounded as the park did not have a buffer zone surrounding the core area and as such the animals graze close to human habitation making them easy prey.
The economic status of the people living around the park is very poor as a result of which they are motivated by the poachers for easy money.
The park has also been affected by a severe lack of forest guards with three of them working for long hours in each camp of the sanctuary.
Apart from the threat from the poachers, damage caused by elephants in farm fields on the fringe of the park and low levels of community awareness has also affected the animal sanctuary.
The forest minister has called for a meeting soon between forest, district administration officials and the Army which has a presence nearby to evolve strategies to stop poaching and form a coordination committee.