September 2013

Rhinos in Kaziranga

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Guest post by Jessica Frei

A large population of greater one-horned rhinos is found in Assam, India, which is a result of years of impactful conservation in the state. Started in the early 90’s, conservation in Kaziranga was affirmed as a Proposed Reserve Forest in the year 1905. The journey of Kaziranga started from there and took many positive turns and twists. It was crowned as a Wildlife Sanctuary in the year 1950 and was accredited as a National park in the year 1974. UNESCO confirmed Kaziranga National Park as a World Heritage Site in December 1985. During this journey, Kaziranga faced many challenges, overcame various issues and stood as one of the remarkable wildlife conservations in India.

Major issues and a government initiative

An increase in rhino poaching in the northern region of Assam has been witnessed. There was a period, when poaching activities rose in the state affecting many wildlife species particularly one-horned rhinos. As a result, one of the major issues of concern for wildlife conservation authority of Kaziranga was to protect the animal and prevent the trade of prohibited wildlife. For this, the officials reinforced the patrolling at Kaziranga Forest, Assam. As a result, more forest personnel were employed and offered with better gun and weapons to battle with the poachers.

Rangers encounter armed poachers

Recently, two poachers were killed by forest protection guards in an encounter at the world famed Kaziranga National Park of Assam. Guards came face to face with a group of five poachers while they were patrolling the park. The group was moving under suspicious conditions near Malani camp under Bagori range. Out of five, two poachers were gunned down by the forest personnel on the spot while the rest three managed to run away. The guards have recovered one .303 rifle from the poachers. The state government of Assam has requested for an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation because of the rise in wildlife crime mainly the poaching of one-horned rhino found in Assam. 

N K Vasu, the director of the park, updated with the figure that 16 rhinos have been killed and a further 40 have died a natural death this year. However, on the contrary, the rhino census passed out by Kaziranga National Park in March (done every year), found an increase in the number of one-horned rhinos. According to them, the figure comes out as 2,329, which is an increase from the last year’s figure of 2,290. Apart from Kaziranga National Park, these wild animals are even found in various others wildlife safety areas in Assam. The total number of one-horned rhinos in Assam stands at 2,544 as per the figure given by the state wildlife official.

End Note

The state government has just required a thorough examination by the Central Bureau of Investigation in order to reduce the cases of poaching, which are coming into light repetitively in the recent times. The prime objective of this investigation is to dig deeper into the matter and finding the better ways of empowering the security in Kaziranga National Park for the safety and protection of one-horned rhinos in Assam.  

Click here to read more about Greater-one horned rhinos

Click here to read more about the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 programme

(3) Comments

  • Megha Tiwari
    03 December 2013, 10:47

    I hope you are aware that Jessica Frei is a fake ID used by a travel operator to promote their pages through links. This is just for your information.

  • N.I. Hussain, IPS (Retd.)
    30 April 2014, 08:38

    MEASURES FOR PROTECTION OF RHINOS AT KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK

    The indiscriminate and unabated killings of Rhinos in Assam during last couple of years particularly in Kaziranga National Park, which got the status of a world heritage site being the only surviving natural habitat of the famous one-hundred rhinos, has underlined two bitter facts in capital letters. That, we Assamese people are too incompetent to neutralize a handful of poachers who have been killing one Rhino after another almost on a daily basis with impunity and in blatant defiance of the state machinery and that we are too insensitive of comprehending the fact that that due to incompetence and callousness on the part of the present generation Assamese, this majestic animal which have been roaming this blessed land of ours since the pre-historic days will become extinct from the face of the earth in another 20/30 years if effective measures are not taken immediately at war-footing for its protection.
    The piecemeal measures that have so far been taken to protect the animal, have not yielded any tangible result as evident in the continued killing spree of the animal, rather it has emboldened the poachers to adopt new and more brutal methods of killing to feed an ever growing market of rhino horns that has been thriving on myths and superstitions. The entry of several break-away groups of extremist into the rhino poaching scene lately has added a new dimension to the menace calling for some very strong practical measures, not high sounding rhetorics. The need of the hour is therefore to chalk out a well-thought-out and well co-ordinated operational plan defining the roles of various concerned departments like forest, Police, PWD etc. besides the district administration and put the same in place duly backed by sufficient man-power, equipments and other logistics. I suggest the following measures to be incorporated in the operational plan if found feasible.
    1. Since extremist elements and professional poachers are having a free run in Kaziranga and its vicinity to strike at will, the first and foremost task on the part of Govt. is to effect “Area Dominance” by inducting 2 (two) full battalions of regular Assam Police Armed Bn into the area which will serve as a strong deterrent to the poachers and other anti-socials preventing them from venturing into the National Park and adjoining areas.
    2. The vulnerable areas, from poaching point of view, should be identified and atleast 12 (twelve) nos. of BOP type Police posts should be set-up at strategic points which will be manned by the above noted AP Bn personnel in two platoon strength. While these BOPs will be commanded by officers of Sr. S.I. or ABI rank, there should be three wing Headquarters of Company strength which will be commanded by young Dy.SPs/Asstt. Commandants.
    3. The area of responsibility of each BOPs should be earmarked and the AP Bn personnel will cover their area through foot-patrolling, ambush patrolling, night patrolling etc. so that no intruder can slip into their area and kill animals. A SOP (standard operating procedure) should also be prepared for the BOP personnel so that they can perform their task without confusion in coordination with forest personnel and nearby BOPs.
    4. Besides wireless communication, each BOPs should be equipped with sufficient nos. of mobile phones so that vital informations can be exchanged between BOPs, wing Headquarters and also with informers to be engaged by wing commanders. Few reliable persons of villages located in fringe areas of Kaziranga National Park should be engaged as informers on payment of nominal source money and they should be issued mobile phones so that any movement of suspicions persons near their villages could be informed to the nearest BOP without loss of time. In case of network problem in the area, service providers may be requested to erect one or two towers at suitable points to provide foot print to Kaziranga and adjoining areas.
    5. Each BOPs should be allotted two vehicles (one GYPSY and one SUV) so that AP Bn personnel can rush to the spot on receipt of information about suspicious movement and engage/neutralize the intruders before damage is done.
    6. Besides sophisticated weapons like AK-47, AK-56 etc, the BOP personnel should be equipped with sufficient nos. of binoculars, night-vision devices, flash lights, search lights etc. to enable them to perform their task in a professional manner.
    7. Concerned district authorities may be asked to promulgate prohibitory orders under section 144 of Cr. P.C. restricting movement of persons with any type of fire arms inside Kaziranga and adjoining areas with the exception of Police, Security force and forest personnel.
    The district administration may also be asked to put restriction on general public from putting on Khaki or army fatigue coloured apparel inside Kaziranga and nearby areas so that extremist elements and poachers cannot enter Kaziranga masquerading as police or forest personnel.
    8. To avoid confusion and possible mistaken identity, it should be made mandatory on the part of Police and forest personnel deployed in Kaziranga to remain in full uniform while on duty and they should be asked to put on their name plates and invariably display their photo identity cards.
    9. On the Northern side of the National Park, two river police outposts with sufficient nos. of AP Bn personnel and power boats should be set up at two convenient places so that proper watch can be maintained over Kaziranga by carrying out river patrols on Brahmaputra.
    10. As a long time measure, PWD authorities, in co-ordination with forest department may identify the most frequented animal corridors of Kaziranga across the National Highway and prepare proposal for construction of 5/6 fly-overs (very high) of 2/3 KMs length over those corridors so that animals can cross over to Karbi Hills during high floods, forest fire or other natural calamities without fear of being run over by spreeding vehicles or felling to poacher’s bullets.
    11. The Commandants of the two dedicated battalions should be entrusted with the task of making their own fool-proof operational plans to make Kaziranga a poacher-free zone. These two dedicated AP Bn should not be entrusted with any duties other than protecting the rhinos and other animals of Kaziranga from the poacher’s bullets.



    N.I. Hussain, IPS (Retd.)
    Chief Vigilance Officer, APDCL
    &
    Director (Security), ASEB, Bijulee Bhawan,
    Paltanbazar, Guwahati-1


    *********************

  • Anonymous commenter
    10 February 2017, 18:06

    Please never shrink from shooting poachers, it is the only way to provide effective protection . In most countries the police shoot thieves to protect property such as a car or any other inanimate object considered of value,
    even though it is probably insured ,so how can shooting to protect an endangered species be wrong?

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