JavaScript must be enabled in order for you to use the Site in standard view. However, it seems JavaScript is either disabled or not supported by your browser. To use standard view, enable JavaScript by changing your browser options.

| Last Updated:08/11/2019

Latest News

Archive

RTIs Punch Holes in Javadekar claims on Growing Rhino Count



The Economic Times, New Delhi, 14th April, 2015


NEW DELHI: Environment minister Prakash Javadekar's claim that all's well with the country's rhinoceros population is only half the story. While the population of the one-horned rhinoceros is on the rise -- 2,401 at the most recent count undertaken in March -- instances of poaching too have increased, with nine rhinos being killed by poachers in the first 100 days of this year.

 

Government officials point to the rise in the number of rhinoceros in Kaziranga in Assam to stress that the situation is not so dire. In 2012, state forest officials reported 2,290 rhinos in the triennial census. Though there was an increase in the spate of poaching incidents in the next 12 months, a special census conducted in 2013 reported that there were 2,329 rhinos in the Kaziranga National Park.



Whatever the claims made by the government, the other half of the story is stitched together by information obtained under the Right To Information (RTI) Act by wildlife activists. Rohit Choudhury, an activist, under the RTI Act from State Public Information Officer of the Office of the Divisional Forest Officer, Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, Kaziranga National Park, has found out that between February 2013 and October 2014, 45 rhinos were killed by poachers. Of these, 18 were killed between  february and September last year

 

Government officials point to the rise in the number of rhinoceros in Kaziranga in Assam to stress that the situation is not so dire. In 2012, state forest officials reported 2,290 rhinos in the triennial census. Though there was an increase in the spate of poaching incidents in the next 12 months, a special census conducted in 2013 reported that there were 2,329 rhinos in the Kaziranga National Park.


Whatever the claims made by the government, the other half of the story is stitched together by information obtained under the Right To Information (RTI) Act by wildlife activists. Rohit Choudhury, an activist, under the RTI Act from State Public Information Officer of the Office of the Divisional Forest Officer, Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, Kaziranga National Park, has found out that between February 2013 and October 2014, 45 rhinos were killed by poachers. Of these, 18 were killed between February and September last year.


The millions that the prized horn fetches in the clandestine wildlife market makes poaching of rhinoceros a lucrative trade. The risk of punishment is virtually non-existent: between 2009 and 2013, as many as 247 poachers were arrested, but none convicted.



The situation is made worse by the proliferation of unregulated hotels and restaurants that have sprung up in the periphery of the park. It took the government 12 years to finalise and notify the eco-sensitive zone around the park, an and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reported in its recent report that even the central government's default notification of July 2013 has not been acted upon.


As a result, there has been large-scale construction of houses, multi-storied buildings, resorts, dhabas, and parking lots in "ecologically sensitive zones". Many of these developments block designated animal corridors. The performance audit report also discovered brick kilns and crushers within the 10-km radius and some even as close as 1 or 2 km of the park.


Javadekar maintains that the significant increase in the rhino population is an example of the "good success of conservation efforts". The minister argues that while there were 20-odd rhino poaching cases, some 30-odd poachers were killed in encounters. However, to look for the silver lining in the incidents of rhino poaching in Kaziranga would be a terrible mistake, according to wildlife activists and experts.



The CAG's performance audit on the Kaziranga National Park is categorical in its indictment of the manner in which the threat of poaching has been handled. While the audit highlights a number of good practices, it states that "most important aspect of wildlife management, that is the management of habitats, took a back seat".



In mid 2010, the Sub-Committee of the Kaziranga Biodiversity Conservation and Development Committee ordered not to provide any licence or permission to build new infrastructure -- resorts, guest house, eateries, etc., but no action has been taken against these illegal establishments. Despite this decision, the CAG reports 99 establishments is two circles, operating in two districts. The lack of proper monitoring of human habitats in the area has come as a boon to poachers.


Rhino poaching presents security problems as well. A 2014 report by UNEP and Interpol on trade in wildlife, "The Environmental Crime Crisis", makes a clear reference to the multitude of armed groups, including tribal separatists, rebels, and Islamist terrorists poaching within Kaziranga and adjoining areas.



"Almost two dozen militant organisations are active in the region, proliferating arms and impacting security, and creating opportunities for the penetration of transnational organised crime. Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islami and Jama'at-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh, Bangladeshi terror groups affiliated with Al Qaeda, reportedly poach tigers, elephants, and rhino in the park to raise organisational funds. The groups claimed to have links with criminal syndicates in Nepal, Thailand, and China," the report st ..


Read more at:
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/46922062.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst