A day after a rhino was killed in Manas, villagers burnt down an anti-poaching camp on Wednesday in retaliation against the gunning down of a suspected poacher by forest staff.
Park officials had to seek help of the Army, SSB and police to contain the irate villagers who tried to burn down anti-poaching camps in the Bhuyapara forest range where the rhino was killed by poachers on Tuesday.
"The villagers set the Panda camp on fire but their attempt was foiled when they tried to burn Segun and Betbari camps. Our staff had to fire in the air to scare the villagers. But we couldn't save the Panda camp. There is tension in the area. The army, SSB jawans and police are helping us to contain the situation," a senior park official said.
The poacher was killed shortly after rhino was gunned down.
"Our staff fired at a gang of five poachers after they were spotted about one km away from the place where the rhino was killed. There were exchanges of fire between our staff and poachers. While four others managed to escape, one died on the spot. The slain poacher is suspected to be from the Dihira Milanpara village," the official said.
The fourth rhino killed this year on Tuesday was translocated from Pobitora wildlife sanctuary last year and had a 13-month-old calf.
"The calf is safe at present. But our worry is from tigers as the calf is not yet capable to defend itself at this age. We are working on a plan to take it to a safe location," said Manas deputy director Sonali Ghosh.
The Bhuyapara range where the rhino was killed is an encroached area of the park. The presence of encroachers within the park area has made anti-poaching measures a difficult task for the park authorities. Since 2011, when Manas got back the Unesco's World Heritage Site status, the park lost six rhinos to poachers.