The environment is where we dwell in. It has often been said that the environment has an impact on our psychological being. Development has ensured all forms of comfort to humans but has neglected other inhabitants of the planet. Natural calamities like droughts, floods, earthquakes, cyclones etc worsen the living environment for animals who obviously cannot speak like us. It is time for us to take up the responsibility of protecting animals, especially from poachers.
The one-horned rhinoceros of the Kaziranga National Park are threatened species as poachers and floods have put their lives in danger. During the times of floods, when these rhinos are not left with any land in the park to live on, they take shelter in the highlands of the Karbi Anglong foothills, along the southern boundary of the park. Poachers are the people who kill these rhinos for their horns and these horns are sold at lucrative prices in the market. Poachers find it easier to tame these rhinos along the foothills as these areas lie beyond the areas of the park and lack an adequate amount of anti-poaching cover.
These areas fall under the Forest Department of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC), a body under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and in the absence of an institutionalized mechanism for coordinated management, the Kaziranga Karbi Anglong landscape, considered by experts as an important landscape for the conservation of rhinos and other animals, has become a safe heaven for poachers.
Since January, the poachers have killed eleven rhinos of the park and six were killed during the floods of June and July. These deaths have reduced the 2290 rhinos to 2191, in the park.Â The death toll of rhinos owing to floods is as high as it is due to poaching. Poachers basically use three different ways of de-horning rhinos: pit poaching, electrocution and gunshots.
Pit poaching is a method in which poachers dig big pits into the ground in the living areas of rhinos. While on the move, rhinos tend to slip into these pits and then they are shot and their horn is removed. In the case of electrocution, high voltage wires are hung near the residing areas of rhinos. As soon as the rhinos come in contact with these open-ended wires they fall victim to poachers. In other method, rhinos are directly shot by guns carried by these poachers. The gunshot method has mostly been practiced these days because the other two require poachers to be in the park for a sufficiently long time.
The recent plan for protection of rhinos and has been drafted and will be implemented from 2003-2013. Under this new plan more forest guards and AFPF (Assam Forest Protection Force) personnel will be hired to tighten the security and ensure the safety of these animals. However, on many instances poachers have been killed by the guards, but they still continue to mark their presence.
India’s wildlife is in a sorry state when compared to the past. However, it would be generous enough to say, that it is really amazing that a highly populated country like India has found some space for rhinos, tigers, mammals etc. Human development is pacing while the condition of wildlife in India is miserable. It is time that we start planning and implementing how we are going to protect and sustain the endangered wildlife of our country. Decisions taken by the thinkers should concern the aspects related to the dwelling places of these animals, how will it be managed and how and where we gather our knowledge for decision making. We need some measures to keep in track the rights of these creatures. Let us get together and show some reverence to these beings who are otherwise dependent on us for fodder, care and now death. Don’t you think that they have the right to survive?
This article has also been published on Bhaskar’s personal blog.