SP moots special protection groups to protect rhinos in Pabitora WLS

Aaranyak promises to provide field gear to protection group of villagers

GUWAHATI:  Morigaon District Superintendent of Police, Sapnanil Deka on Thursday mooted setting up of special rhino protection groups comprising villagers in vulnerable and sensitive areas near the famed rhino habitat of Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS).

 He was addressing a well-attended awareness programme against rhino hunting organized by Morigaon District administration, Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary Authority and biodiversity conservation group, Aaranyak at Koranibori ME Madrassa near the rhino habitat.

“Villagers near Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary have been instrumental in preventing killing of a single rhino in the last three years or so and they should continue to remain co-operative to the police and forest authorities especially when there has been disturbing inputs of late from the ground about some outside rhino hunters (from Manipur, Nagaland etc.) in collusion with some local miscreants are hatching design to kill rhinos of Pabitora Sanctuary,” the police official said.

He called upon villagers to share prompt any information about presence of suspect elements in the area in order to safeguard the rhino, which has highlighted Pabitora on the global map besides opening livelihood options for local people of the area.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aaranyak, Dr Bibhab Talukdar told the villagers, “We as a community has the most important role to play in protecting the rhino that has made Pabitora area famous and provided various sources of livelihood to people of the area. By protecting the rhino, you are protecting the wetland ecology which sustains you in the area.”

Dr Talukdar lauded the suggestions of the Superintendent of Police for formation of special rhino protection groups among villagers from vulnerable areas on the fringe of the wildlife sanctuary and promised that Aaranyak would provide essential field gear for these group in the greater interest of rhino protection.

Ranger of Pabitora WLS, Mukul Tamuli pointed out that people from 33 revenue villages surrounding the rhino habitat form the back bone of rhino protection mechanism in the area.

“The villagers have been playing key role in preventing rhino hunting in Pabitora WLS. However, your cooperation is more vital now as we have noticed that of late for miscreants are roaming in the area to kill rhino,” he said.

 Officer-in-Charge of Mayong Police Station, Mridul Hazarika said that onus lied on villagers of the area to protect the rhino from the poachers on the prowl in the area. “You have to cooperate with police and forest department to defeat the design hatched by some criminals from the area to kill Pabitora rhinos,” the official said.

The 38 square kilometer Pabitora WLS park has a core area of 16 square kilometers. With 102 precious rhinos thriving in such a small area, Pabitora is toasted as the wildlife park with highest rhino density in the world.

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