Guwahati, Feb 26 : Sixty-one poachers have surrendered before wildlife authorities at the Manas National Park in Assam.
They deposited 26 country-made weapons before the Deputy Chief of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), Kampa Borgoyari, at the Bansbari range of the park in Baksa District.
This is the second biggest surrender of poachers in the National Park during the last two years. In 2006, over 130 poachers had surrendered before the authorities. Borgoyari said the reformed poachers would be rehabilitated.
Located on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, the Manas National Park has a core area of 500 square km and was declared a national park in 1990. It straddles Baksa and Chirang districts, both now administered by the BTC.
A section of the park stretches beyond the Indo-Bhutan border, where it is known as the Royal Manas National Park.
Almost the entire rhino population of Manas was wiped out by poachers and militants, prompting UNESCO to downgrade the park's status to that of a World Heritage Site in Danger.
As many as 64 rhinos were killed for their horns between 1980 and 1995. Sustained conservation initiatives over the past few years have rejuvenated the park, but poaching remains a problem. The park, famous for its tiger, elephant and rhino population, is likely to regain its past glory with the newly constituted BTC taking keen interest on conservation efforts.
Meanwhile, the conservationists are expecting the possibility of the wildlife habitat getting back the World Heritage Site tag that it lost because of poaching.