GUWAHATI: With the Lok Sabha election nearing, wildlife activists have appealed to the political parties and candidates to clear their stand on wildlife protection. Aaranyak, a society for biodiversity conservation, also urged the state election commission to exempt forest staff and vehicles from election duty.
"As the Lok Sabha election has been declared, we urge all the candidates to make their stand clear on wildlife and forest conservation in Assam and what steps they would initiate to ensure protection of rhinos and other species along with their habitats. It's a serious issue," secretary general of Aarayanak Bibhab Kumar Talukdar told reporters on Friday.
The wildlife activists wanted the political parties to focus on issues like rampant deforestation, encroachment and rhino poaching. "We want the parties to clearly mention their standpoint on encroachment and poaching. We also want in place strict measures for wildlife protection," said publicity secretary Firoz Ahmed. Further, the NGO has urged the state election commission to strictly follow the direction of Election Commission of India to exempt requisition of vehicles and staff of wildlife department for election duties.
Aaranyak said measures must be strengthened on priority basis to protect the precious one-horned rhinos. "Dehorning is not the ultimate solution to check poaching, it's only a strategy to buy time. According to our view, dehorning is not at all any solution as poachers will then target those with horns," Talukdar said. Recently, the state government has been mulling over the idea of dehorning the animal to save it from poachers.
The NGO members advocated for the protection of land in the rhino-dominated areas through harmonious relationship with the local villagers.