Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service
Guwahati, August 3
Vigilant people living in fringe areas of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP), a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Assam, are making a significant contribution in protecting endangered one-horned rhinoceros from poachers.
Faced with relentless threat from poachers, the KNP authorities in coordination with the Assam police have mobilised local villagers and revived the village defence parties (VDP) for strengthening vigilance around the park areas.
An official said VDP members guarded the area throughout the year under harsh conditions. In an effort to encourage their contribution towards protection of animals, Aaranyak, a society for conservation of biodiversity, in association with the Assam police have distributed raincoats, shoes and torches among VDPs of 14 villages in the Jokholabandha area near the KNP.
Sub-Divisional Police officer Gaurav Upadhyay said: “In the past year, rhino poaching has declined considerably due to the combined and diligent efforts of the administration, VDPs and conservation groups like Aaranyak.”
Rhino poaching was fast becoming an almost uncontrollable crime. Poachers would easily enter the KNP from civil areas in Jokholabandha and hide inside the forests and villages close to Kaziranga overnight and hunt down protected animals like the one-horned rhino.
The police started motivating locals to act as guards, which helped curb poacher traffic to a great degree. The VDPs are encouraged to keep an eye on all newcomers and engage them in conversation to know about their whereabouts.
Kaziranga is home to over 2,000 one-horned rhinos, besides other animals like Royal Bengal Tiger, Asiatic buffaloes, elephants, deer species, etc.
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