In a significant move towards wildlife conservation in Assam especially KazirangaNational Park, the Central Govt had sanctioned additional firepower for the Assam forest department, state Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain said Wednesday. The state government would now buy 2,000 self-loading rifles (SLR), 540 carbines, 30 nine mm pistols, 25 revolvers and 10 light machine guns (LMG) to equip the forest department.
However, the central government has turned down the Assam Government’s proposal for aerial surveillance of the KazirangaNational Park by drones. The proposal had been turned down “due to military and security reasons”. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had earlier cleared the proposal.
The proposal of using drones for aerial surveillance of the park was mooted in 2012 when the park registered a sudden spate in poaching of one-horned rhinos. Union Minister of Environment and Forest Jayanti Natarajan, who visited the park last year, said she would approach the central government for sanctioning a drone for better aerial surveillance of the park.
Over 20 rhinos were killed by poachers in Assam last year and 18 of them were killed in the KazirangaNational Park so far this year.
Hussain said the department was proposing to fence a stretch of 50 km in the KazirangaNational Park with solar powered electric fencing to stop rhinos from straying outside.