GUWAHATI: Activists of All Assam Students' Union (Aasu) on Thursday staged a demonstration near Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Morigaon in protest against the killing of a rhino in the protected area on Wednesday.
Several students and activists from the Mayong unit of Aasu shouted slogans against forest minister Rockybul Hussain and the Congress government for its failure to prevent poaching of rhinos in the state.
They also alleged that laxity of the forest department had led to the spurt in such incidents in Kaziranga and other rhino habitats in the state. The protestors demanded the resignation of the forest minister on moral grounds after 13 rhinos were killed by poachers this year, including the latest one at Pobitora.
"How long are we going to see our rhinos dying in the hands of poachers? The government always claims that anti-poaching measures are in place to take on poachers, yet there is no let up in the butchering of rhinos. We are worried that now poachers are targeting Pobitora," Aasu's Mayong unit president Pranjal Deka said.
A gang of five-six poachers gunned down a female rhino at Tuplung area of the sanctuary around 12.10 am on Wednesday and took away the horn. The 38.8 sq km area of the sanctuary has 90-odd rhinos. This is the first rhino killed in Pobitora this year. Two poachers were also killed by forest guards, while they were trying to escape after killing the rhino. This is the first case of rhino poaching in Pobitora this year, while last year two rhinos were killed in the sanctuary.
Deka also alleged that since last year, the three rhinos were poached close to the anti-poaching camps at Pobitora.
Poaching has already become one of the dominating issues in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in the state.