Guwahati, June 20: The support of fringe villagers is crucial if the laudable eight-year-long trend of “zero rhino poaching’ has to continue in respect of Assam’s Pobitora Wild Life Sanctuary (WLS) , where the density of one-horned rhino population is highest amongsr all the rhino habitats in the world.
This was highlighted by the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Guwahati Wildlife Division, Jayashree Naiding who was addressing a sensitization programme organised by Aaranyak in collaboration with Pobitora WLS authority for local villagers of Pobitora, Morigaon Police, and Village Defence Organisations (VDOs). The programme was organised at Mayong in Morigaon district of Assam, yesterday.
The poaching of rhinos in India has always been a major problem in respect of conservation of the species besides posing a threat to the national security because of the prevalent vicious collaboration among rhino poachers, rhino horn traders, drug lords, insurgent and arms smugglers.
In spite of the grave situation, Assam's Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary has emerged as a prominent rhino hub due to the continuous and coordinated efforts of the forest department, law enforcement agencies, local communities, and non-governmental organisations working in the region. This outstanding coordination has ensured this WLS has maintained a ‘zero rhino poaching’ phase for the last eight years.
Attending the sensitisation programme organised by the Legal and Advocacy Division (LAD) of Aaranyak, the DFO Jayashree Naiding flagged various provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and sought cooperation from locals to ensure that Pobitora continues to maintain zero rhino poaching trend in years to come.
Attending the workshop, the Range Officer of Pobitora WLS, Nayan Das underscored the importance of well-informed local communities to safeguard the area around the WLS.
Rana Bhuyan, Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Mayong Police Station, called upon the villagers attending the programme to share information about wildlife crimes taking place in the area with the police and forest department.
Dr. Bibhab Talukdar, CEO of Aaranyak, praised forest and police officials' efforts to stop rhino poaching in Pobitora for the last eight years. He also expressed gratitude to Gaonburhas (village heads) of the fringe villages and local villagers for their support for rhino conservation. During the current wave flood in and around Pobitora WLS, some flood-hit rhinos may take shelter in fringe villages and Dr Talukdar appealed to local villagers for their support to protect such flood-hit rhinos.
Md Osman Ali, Gaonburha of Burhaburi area, echoed the commitment of his villagers to help with rhino conservation. Mizanur Rahman and co-VDO, Ambu Bora, also spoke at the function seeking continued public cooperation.
Aaranyak's Sanjeeb Bezbaruah played a key role in organising this crucial sensitisation meeting with support from David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF).