The authorities will set up special rhino protections groups following reports that poachers from other states are targeting Assam’s Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary that has the highest density of rhinos in the world.
According to the intelligence reports, poachers from neighbouring Nagaland and Manipur in collusion with local miscreants have targeted the sanctuary where no poaching was reported during the past three years, Morigaon Superintendent of Police Swapnil Deka said.
The special rhino protection groups will consist of villagers in vulnerable and sensitive areas near the famed rhino habitat and they will report any suspicious movement of people to the authorities to prevent poaching, he said.
“The success of no poaching during the last three years in the sanctuary was possible only due to the efforts of the villagers and they must continue to cooperate with the forest and police departments in preventing such incidents,” Deka said.
The SP called upon villagers to share information about the presence of suspected persons in the area promptly to protect the rhinos of the sanctuary.
Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is a 38 square kilometre park with a core area of 16 sq kms. It has a rhino population of 102, the highest density of rhinos per square kilometre in the world.
The 33 revenue villages surrounding the rhino habitat in Central Assam’s Morigaon district form the back bone of rhino protection mechanism in the area, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctaury ranger Mukul Tamuli said.
“The villagers have been playing a key role in preventing rhino hunting in Pobitora but their cooperation is more vital now as it has come to our notice miscreants are roaming in the area to kill rhinos,” he said.
Villagers as a community have made Pobitora famous and it has provided various sources of livelihood to the people of the area, particularly through tourism ventures, Chief Executive Officer of bio-diversity conservation group ‘Aaranyak’ Dr Bibhab Talukdar said.
By protecting the rhino, they are protecting the wetland ecology which sustains them in the area, he said.
Talukdar lauded the authorities for formation of the special rhino protection groups from among the villagers from vulnerable areas on the fringe of the wildlife sanctuary.