PM's intervention sought to save Rhinos

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Guwahati, Jan 24(UNI) Hundreds of wildlife activists and lawyers in Assam today launched a signature campaign seeking intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to protect rhinos, which are facing a serious threat from unabated poaching in Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary.

Informing this to reporters, the representatives of at least seven Wildlife NGOs also expressed surprise over the lukewarm response of the government.

Regretting that forest officials were reluctant in taking pro-active steps on information given by the NGOs, secretary general of Aaranyak, an NGO, Bibhab Talukdar said, ''We have given a lot of information to the authorities about the possible movement of poachers, but in the last one year forest officers had failed to take any action.'' Veteran advocate Gautam Uzir, who was also present in the press conference pointed out that the government should create a separate wildlife division so that parks and wildlife sanctuaries could be protected.

In reference to the shortage of manpower at Kaziranga, he said, '' There are more than 100 illegal check gates of the forest department in the state and most of the forest staff want their posting in these places for reasons best known to all. There are check gates which has as many as 45 staff.'' The wildlife activists have also decided to send a video clipping of killing of an adult rhino its calf rhino on January 19 near Kaziranga to the Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The adult rhino survived for 35 hours, though poachers had chopped off her horn.

The group of NGOs, which included WWF-India, EcoSystem-India, Dolphin Foundation, Early Birds and Aaranyak, has also placed a charter of demands before the state government to improve the working condition of wildlife staff in Kaziranga. They also stressed the need of formulating a strategy to check the free run of poachers.

The wildlife activists also assured to cooperate with the government in protecting the precious animals of the state.

UNI MT KK SB AS1933

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