A meeting was held in the conference hall of Kaziranga National Park recently where mediapersons of Bokakhat and Kaziranga exchanged their views regarding conservation of rhinos by putting a stop to poaching.
The mediapersons placed their suggestions based on practical experience gathered over the years. It may be pertinent to add here that in spite of tight security measures and strict vigil maintained by the park authority, rampant killing of rhinos has posed a serious threat to the park.
The government, NGOs and even the judiciary have expressed concern over this sensitive matter. The Gauhati High Court, acting on a recent public interest litigation, had asked the director of KNP to prepare a status report in consultation with the stakeholder organisations and officials concerned.
KNP director MK Jadav elaborately discussed about the various hydra-headed problems faced by the park and sought suggestions to conserve the valuable flora and fauna. If the killing of rhinos is allowed to continue unabated, then the glorious existence of the national park as a World Heritage Site will be in peril, he maintained.
After prolonged discussion, the meeting opined that it was against translocation, cutting of horns or use of poisonous medicine for de-horning rhinos. In order to protect the world famous pachyderm from extinction, some important long-term strategies have to be adopted. The park authority collected valuable suggestions from leading personalities, NGOs, eco-development committees, etc.
The participants pointed out that mushrooming of noisy eateries, hotels, motels and dhabas along the national park has perennially hindered free movement of the park’s animals, besides acting as a safe haven for poachers and other traders in wildlife parts. Encroachment along the national highway in this stretch of KNP has even blocked the animal corridors connecting Bokakhat and Karbi Anglong areas.
The meeting also discussed about appointment of local youths in the park to help maintain strict vigil along the north bank of the river Brahmaputra, which the participants felt would go a long way in curbing poaching.
The park director mentioned that as the rhino population had increased manifold over the years, the present carrying capacity of the park was not sufficient for the herbivores, which often strayed out for fresh fodder.
Citing an example, Jadav informed that Kruger National Park in South Africa with an area of 1,30,000 sq km is home to 12,000 rhinos, thus allowing an average space of 1.6 sq km per animal. On the contrary, the rhinos in KNP get only 0.2 sq km per animal for their movement.
The officials and mediapersons advocated construction of overpass, flyover, etc., with railway services for better security of the animals. From among the journalists, Swapan Nath, Uttam Saikia, Dambaru Saikia, Neelapadma Sarma, Nilu Acharjee, Dhrubajyoti Saha and Achyut Hazarika presented their suggestions, while DFO Swapnashil Sarma, ACF Pankaj Sharma and Sudipta Baruah, RO Mukul Tamuly and Salem Ali represented the park authority.