Guwahati: At a time Kaziranga National Park is bearing the brunt of rhino poaching, environmental activists have started demanding facilities for frontline staff deployed at the park.
Union minister of state for environment, forest and climate change Prakash Javadekar will be visiting the park for two days on Friday. Activists argued that frontline staff form the backbone of all anti-poaching mechanisms and their basic needs should be taken care of.
"Frontline staff are deployed in difficult and hostile situations. So they are entitled to facilities at par with those given to paramilitary forces. The Union minister should consider how he can boost the morale of frontline staff. Their welfare should be of utmost priority for him," said environmental activist Rohit Choudhary.
With rhino poaching in Kaziranga on the rise, wildlife conservationists also want the minister to look into the issue of low conviction rate of poachers despite the high rate of arrests.
The latest poaching incident, in the park's Burapahar forest range, took this year's rhino death toll to 22 so far. Last year, 27 rhinos were killed by poachers in the park.
Wildlife conservationists feel the low conviction rate is one of the reasons why arrests have failed to act as a deterrent for poachers.
"There are many repeat offenders. Many poachers jump bail and are found to be involved in rhino poaching again. Unless strong cases are registered against them and stringent follow-ups ensured, anti-poaching mechanisms will lose their teeth," said a conservationist.