Monday, April 25, 2011

Spate of rhino poaching in Assam and Nepal prompts calls for government action.

May 2008. WWF-India is extremely concerned with the recent spate of Rhino poaching in Assam and Nepal. In the last 10 days, five Rhinos have been killed in Assam and one in Nepal. Three of the Rhinos poached in India were killed in the Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park while two were poached in Kaziranga National Park.
Two rhinos poached in Kaziranga; one dies after 36 hours of being dehorned, courtesy of the Wildlife Trust of India
According to official records, 16 rhinos were killed by poachers in 2007 In Kaziranga National Park alone, and another four Rhinos have already been poached in the first 2 months of 2008. The poachers hit again in April killing a calf along with its mother in April. This disturbing news came soon after the incidents of poaching in Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park which seems to have become a soft target for poachers.

5 rhinos killed in Nepal

Nepal has also suffered, with 5 rhinos being killed since January 2008. Poachers are taking advantage of the gaps in enforcement efforts at the field level. It is also clear that the poachers are becoming bolder and shooting animals in the vicinity of park camps and villages, again suggesting that enforcement efforts are no longer sufficiently deterrent and that the profits from this illegal trade are high enough to risk the new approach.
The first attempt to remove a rhino horn in Orang failed because of quick response by Forest Guards. It still resulted in the death of a rhino. The second poaching event took place the following; this also failed due to swift action by the forest guards. The poachers struck a week later and took away the horn.

Image courtesy of the Wildlife Trust of India

WWF-India along with partner and donor agencies has a major commitment for conservation of large mammals (Elephants, Rhinos, Tigers) in the Eastern Himalayas Eco Region. WWF's field programmes have had considerable success including the initiation of the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 programme with the first Rhino translocations (from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to Manas National Park) conducted last month.

Grave concern about Manas rhinos

WWF is also gravely concerned about protection of the recently translocated Rhinos in Manas National Park. It is clear that the protection staff will need additional help in terms of temporary anti poaching camps. The protection of these rhinos will also call for special arrangements during the monsoon when operations in the Park become more difficult.

To ensure the safety of the Rhinos in Assam, WWF, on behalf of the larger conservation community, urges the government of Assam to rise to the open defiance shown by organised criminal gangs and put in place the following measures at the earliest:

1. The conservation of Rhinos is a national issue and must be prioritized as so. All concerned agencies of the Central, state government and civil society must come together in this moment of grave threat for this majestic animal.

2. It is critical that steps should be taken to strengthen the intelligence network to pre-empt any poaching attempt. For this, the Govt. of Assam should directly seek support of agencies like IB, Military Intelligence etc. to seek specific inputs on these events. At the local level, agencies like the State Police, local Army units etc. should come together to collectively put out a show of strength and collective response to this critical situation.

3. The Forest Department' infrastructure must be augmented and additional forest guards must be recruited on a priority basis. Till such time, the ground force should be augmented by additional deployment of Special Armed Police and Paramilitary in the affected areas. These forces should work under the unified command of the concerned Protected Areas Directors, as required.

4. All enforcement agencies must work in collaboration on the ground to collectively meet this crisis. Personnel of the Forest Department who are engaged in patrolling the wilds in these difficult times should be given adequate support and protection for any acts that may be committed during discharge of their official duties.

5. It is critical that the support of the local community must be taken to ensure their participation in conservation efforts.

The Central Government must immediately convene an interstate meeting between the state enforcement agencies of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and West Bengal and NGOs working in the region to collectively devise a response to the issue of interstate trafficking of rhino horns. It should also pledge additional support to the state of Assam to counter this crisis.

WWF India pledges all possible support to the Govt. of Assam in support of rhino conservation in this hour of crisis and urges all like minded and concerned individuals and organisations to extend their support for this purpose.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thats one of the worst things I've ever seen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!