Rhino killed in Kaziranga, govt sends top official for probe

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Guwahati, June 06 (UNI) Despite a CBI enquiry in the offing, poachers continued to roam freely at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam with another world famous one-horned rhino body recovered today, forcing the state government to go on an overdrive to fight poaching. According to the forest department sources, the body of a full grown rhino was found during the day but details of the killing were not known yet.

State Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain informed that the Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) has been deputed to the KNP immediately to conduct an on-the-spot investigation and submit his report. ''The government has taken serious note of the poaching,'' he added.

The minister said the Union Home ministry had approached the CBI to undertake an enquiry to expose the bigger players controlling the poaching network.

Between 2001-08, as many as 76 rhinos were poached in the state, with a staggering 25 killed in the Unesco World Heritage Site KNP in the last 12 months. Six rhinos have already been poached so far this year in the KNP.

The KNP, which shelters about 2,000 rhinos in the state, is ill equipped to protect its most famous inmate. The Park area has risen from 430 sq km to 858 sq km, with another 340 sq km due to be added to it.

However, the security and management apparatus of the KNP had not risen in proportionate manner, resulting in staff shortage that had been pointed as a major reason for continuing poaching.

The Park, staffed by about 550 people, needs close to 2,000 employees to guard it properly, besides sophisticated arms and tracking facilities.

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