Rhino killed in Kaziranga: govt sends top official for probe

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Guwahati, Jun 6 (UNI) Despite a CBI enquiry in the offing, poachers continued to roam freely at the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) in Assam with another world famous one-horned rhino body recovered today, forcing the state government to go on an overdrive to fight oaching. According to forest department sources, the body of a 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 a 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 of KNP in the last 12 months. Six rhinos had already been poached so far this year in the SANCTUARY.

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

The security and management apparatus of the KNP had not risen in proportionate manner, resulting in staff shortage that was as a major reason for continuous poaching.

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

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