Guwahati, Jun 23 (UNI) The Assam government has handed over the forests of the state to the Army to protect its wildlife.
This highly unusual development took place last week following the state forest department's inability to protect its wildlife from poachers.
According to an official notification, while the Army will handle the anti-poaching job, the state forest department will do the mundane job of forest management.
Poaching has been unusually high in Assam with more than 24 rhinos falling prey to bullets of highly sophisticated poachers.
The notification clearly said all the forest areas of Sibsagar and Jorhat districts, including Kaziranga National Park, would be protected by the 2nd Mountain Brigade while the forest areas of NC Hills will be looked after by the 57 Mountain Brigade.
As far as Tinsukia and Dibrugarh forest area is concerned, 181 Mountain Brigade will take care of it, while Missamri forest will be protected by the 4 Corps directly.
Meanwhile, the state government's decision has angered the environmentalists as they felt the Army should stay outside the forest and stop the poachers from entering the forest area.
'' They should do it without entering the forest because poachers do not live inside the forest. The Army is not sensitive to the conservation aspect and their movement inside the National Park could wreak havoc'' said Mr Manju Barua, former member of the Indian Wildlife Advisory Board. A similar sentiment was also echoed by Mr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, secretary, Aaranyak.
However, the state government decided to engage the Army after failing to stop the poachers from repeatedly targetting the one-horned rhinos besides the felling of tree.
Forest officers, unable to work for conservation freely, welcomed the whole development.
''Handing over the forests to the Army is the only solution to save the forest which is full of valuable timber. We are doing our best but we are fighting a losing battle,'' said a Divisional Forest officer of Karbi Anglong.
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