By Jayanthi Natarajan
Union minister of state for environment and forest Jayanthi Natarajan said in Parliament that the CBI has registered three separate cases relating to rhino poaching in Karbi Anglong and Nagaon districts.
Natarajan was replying to a question by MP Bhubaneswar Kalita from Assam in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday regarding rhino killings at Kaziranga National Park. The Union minister informed the house that the CBI registered the cases following requests from the state government and subsequent notification by the Centre. She also said the Centre will extend all possible help to prevent wildlife crime in the state.
Natarajan, in her reply, also mentioned about the proposal on using unmanned aerial vehicle for surveillance in Kaziranga.
Last month, the CBI registered three rhino poaching cases which took place in July and September last year in Karbi Anglong and Nagaon districts. CBI said the cases were initially registered by Assam Police against unknown persons in Karbi Anglong and Nagaon districts for various offences of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and Arms Act, 1959.
The state government, for long, has been demanding a CBI probe into rhino poaching in the state. The state government first moved the Centre for a CBI probe in 2008 when at least 12 rhinos were killed by poachers in Kaziranga. Last year was one of the worst years for rhinos with 22 one-horned pachyderms being killed by poachers in addition to at least 18 killed in floods. This year, 17 rhinos were killed in the state.
The state government did not rule out the involvement of armed militants in rhino poaching as in many of the killings, sophisticated weapons were used.
According to the forest department, 37 suspected poachers were arrested this year, while in 2012 it was 141. Three poachers were killed in encounter with forest officials this year, four in 2012 and six in 2011.