Are Political Parties in Assam Serious About Saving the Rhino?
The great one horned rhino is the reason for existence and livelihood for most in Kaziranga national Park.
This is one question that every voter in Kaziranga is asking. The great one-horned rhino is the reason for their existence and livelihood in and around the Kaziranga National park, where most of them work as Jeep safari drivers, tourist guides or hoteliers.
In their election campaigns none of the political parties have said a single word about protecting the Kaziranga National Park. Even their election manifesto doesn’t say a thing about protecting the wildlife in Assam. So how can we trust these political parties?Mahendra Nath Saikia, Cultural Secretary of Jeep Safari Association
The rhino became part of the political campaign only when Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue at a public rally at Bokakhat near Kaziranga National Park.
I was not aware that even rhinos are not safe at the hands of the Congress. Eyes were kept closed and rhinos were allowed to be killed and political patronage was given to those who killed rhinos.Narendra Modi to the voters of Kaziranga
Assam lost almost 200 Rhinos to poaching in the 15-year tenure of the Congress Government. Mahendra Nath Saikai says that in the last 15 years of Congress rule, there were two ministers of forests, Rakibul Hussain and Etwa Munda, and maximum poaching happened under Rakibul’s tenure.
The current population of the rhino in Kaziranga National Park, according to a 2015 census, is 2401. The growth of the rhino population will depend on the combined effort of the State Government and the locals. The biggest threats to the rhino are the poachers and the annual floods.
Pranjit Basumatary, a veterinarian at Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation, says that government should try to provide different means of livelihood to the villagers living near the forest. It’s only then that they will stop providing support and information to the poachers.
Though the forest guards who are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the animals of Kaziranga didn’t speak on camera, off the record they pointed out the lack of sophisticated arms and other facilities as a major hindrance in their fight against poachers.
The guard rooms in the middle of the national park had minimal facilities, making it difficult for forest guards to fulfill their duties.
The Congress and the Asom Gana Parishad are up against each other in Kaziranga and it seems the voters will vote for the party which will save the rhino and their national park.
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