|A dead rhino in Kaziranga National park|
It has been recently reported that the government of Assam has decided to send a hundred-member team of the elite Assam Forest Protection Force (AFPF) to protect rhinos in Kaziranga National Park. According to Assam forest minister Rockybul Hussain, a fifty-member team of the AFPF had already been sent to the national park on Tuesday. He further added that another fifty-member troop will be deployed into Kaziranga within this week. Minister Hussain also affirmed that a total of 39 rhinos have died in Assam due to monsoon floods and poaching. Eleven rhinos had died as a result of poaching, which included six inside the national park and five in the adjoining Karbi Anglong district where they had migrated because of floods. Another 28 animals died from drowning in the floods. The deaths of Assam's rhinos came into focus recently when after seven rhinos were killed by suspected poachers last week in and around Kaziranga.
I'm very impressed and proud to see what the government of Assam is doing, in order to keep its rhinos and other wildlife safe. But what fascinated me about this article is the story behind the efforts the state government of Assam took to save its rhinos. In the past three years, Assam had witnessed a series of rhino killings which prompted the government to entail a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) investigation into all the cases of poaching. The government also announced that the army and central paramilitary forces will be dispatched in the neighboring areas of Kaziranga National Park to block any poaching attempts. In addition to that, better forest management and protection also contributed to the well-being of rhinos. Their population has increased to 2,290 animals in Kaziranga alone and 2,505 in Assam. However, these success stories also brought accusations from parties like the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who tried to bring the issue of bad forest management into the light which Minister Hussain refuted. He also condemned allegations brought by these two parties that the state government is helping illegal migrants to settle inside the national park's buffer zone to increase the Congress votebank. In his own words, Minister Hussain stated that in 1996, under the leadership of then chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, the AGP gave out an order to settle 96 landless families in those areas. In my opinion, Assam is a leading example of how conservation and wildlife protection should be implemented in India and other countries prone to crimes like poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. The involvement of military and paramilitary forces would help tremendously in the battle against these ongoing threats to wildlife around the world.
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