SUBJECT :Assam has five national parks and 19 wildlife sanctuaries and is home to 91 percent of Indian rhinos 

Rim statistics: As many as 74 rhinos have been killed by poachers since 2015. file photo Ritu Raj Konwar

Kaziranga, February 20, 2018: In a major initiative for wildlife protection, the forest guards in Assam were on Sunday given modern weapons like self-loading rifles (SLRs) and 9 MM pistols to check poaching of rhinos, tigers and other wild animals.

‘First time in country’

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said for the first time in the country, 10 wildlife fast-track courts have been set up to exclusively deal with poaching and other related crimes against wild animals.

“We have put protection of wildlife in high priority. Accordingly, we have today launched a new programme - modernisation of arms and equipment for protection, rescue and rehabilitation of rhinos, tigers and other wildlife,” he said.

According to the plan, forest guards were given 954 SLRs, 272 INSAS rifles, 133 rifles of .12 bore, 20 of 9 MM pistols and 91 Ghatak rifles.

The Chief Minister said ever since the BJP came to power in Assam nearly two years ago, 197 poachers have been arrested and eight have been killed by security guards, while as many as 59 poachers have been convicted for crimes against wildlife.

Mr. Sonowal said wildlife fast-track courts have been set up in 10 districts and such courts have been set up for the first time in the country. “We hope that speedy trial and conviction of poachers will go a long way in protecting wildlife in the State,” he said.

Assam has five national parks and 19 wildlife sanctuaries. It is home to more than 91% of Indian rhinos (2,431 rhinos as per 2015 census). It is also home to 167 tigers, 248 leopards, 1,169 swamp deer besides a large number of wild buffaloes, different varieties of deer and other animals.

According to an estimate tabled in the Assembly this month, altogether 74 rhinos have been killed by poachers since 2015 and 316 poachers arrested during 2015-17.


Source: The Hindu