GUWAHATI: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the helm of affairs now, conservation activists have stepped up the demand for stopping the menace of rhino poaching in Assam as was promised by him during his election campaigns in the state.
Modi, during many of his election campaigns in the state, had retorted against the state government's alleged failure to curb poaching.
At an election rally in Dhemaji district's Gogamukh in March, Modi had said that the spurt in poaching was an attempt by the Congress-led government to settle "Bangladeshis" in the protected areas. "Rhinos are the pride of Assam, But look at the way they are being poached with regularity. Today, I bring the charge against Congress government that the rhinos are being killed to settle Bangladeshis. But for how long?" Modi had alleged.
Environment activist Rohit Choudhury, who is fighting a legal battle at the National Green Tribunal for stopping expansion of the stretch of NH-37 that passes along the Kaziranga National Park, said now that Modi has taken charge, its high time action is taken to stop the menace of poaching. "My expectation is that the Prime Minister should himself deal with the problem of rhino poaching. The rise in rhino killing has emerged as a big threat to the wildlife and conservation," said Choudhury.
Altogether 18 rhinos have been killed by poachers in the state so far this year. Kaziranga National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site, alone lost 16 rhinos to poachers this year. Last year, 40 pachyderms were poached in the state, with 35 in Kaziranga alone.
Rhino conservationists here said as horns from the poached rhinos in the state are smuggled outside the country, international effort has become imperative to combat the crime.