Step to boost vigil in rhino hub, tiger reserve in Assam

VDPs from Orang NP provided with field gear to overcome monsoon hardship

GUWAHATI:  In order to improve the efficiency of the VDPs working in the area surrounding Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, Aaranyak, a prominent biodiversity conservation and research organisation based in Guwahati in coordination with Darrang Police and Orang National Park authority has provided rain coats, field shoes and torch lights.

Total 101 rain coats and 101 pairs field shoes were provided to 101 members of 46 VDPs from the area besides 46 highly efficient torch lights to each of the VDPs so that they can work efficiently during the rainy season.

Orang National Park with a core area of over 79 sq.km. is home to 101 one-horned rhinos (2018 figures) and 24 majestic Royal Bengal Tigers besides a treasure trove of avian and aquatic species.

A team of Aaranyak led by its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Secretary General, Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar was present at the function held on Thursday at the convention centre in Orang National Park when these items were distributed among the VDP members in presence Darrang district Superintendent of Police (SP), Amrit Bhuyan and Assistant Conservator of Forest, Ashok Deb Choudhury besides other leading citizens of the area.

Aaranyak has procured the items under the sponsorship of David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF).

Risk of rhino poaching increases in Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park in Darang-Sonitpur districts as the monsoon season sets in the valley. Poachers tend to cross over the River Brahmaputra from South Bank to strike inside the park that has no buffer zone between the fringe villages.

It becomes a herculean task for the forest and police department to protect the 100 plus rhinos and 20 plus Royal Bengal Tigers in Orang National Park unless there is constant support from fringe villagers.

The Village Defence Parties (VDPs) working in the vicinity of Orang National Park have been instrumental in extending support to the forest personnel and police in monitoring and checking movements of animal hunters in and around the important wildlife habitat which is a recognized Tiger Reserve too.

The SP, Amrit Bhuyan called upon the VDP members present on the occasion to work as a bridge between the common villagers and the police, forest department.

He said, “Poachers use the river route to strike at Orang National Park from Nagaon side on the South bank of the Brahmaputra. VDPs should keep a strict vigil on movements of such rhino poachers or any other criminal elements in the area and keep the police and forest departments informed about it.”

The SP lauded Aaranyak for being so prompt to respond to his request for providing field gear to VDP members.

The CEO of Aaranyak, Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar said, “There has been an encouraging trend of zero rhino poaching in Orang National Park for the last few years and it has been possible because of cooperation from the fringe villagers and the efforts of the VDPs who should continue with the same efforts to maintain the trend in near future too.”

“We and you have to preserve and replenish the forest cover thereby the natural resources including precious animals for our and the progeny’s survival on the earth. You have a major role to play as you all are positioned in a globally known biodiversity hub,” Dr Talukdar said.

The ACF, Ashok Deb Choudhury said, “Aaranyak has been instrumental in helping the forest department all along.  Forest department/ police personnel expect tremendous support from the VDPs in preventing poaching especially stray rhinos and tigers of Orang Park.”

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