49 rhinos dead in Assam

Guwahati, Aug 11 () Forty-nine rhinos have died since May in Assam and horns of only 19 were recovered by the Forest Department, the Assembly was informed today.

Replying to a written query by BPF MLA Majendra Narzary, state Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma said 49 rhinos have lost their lives since the new BJP-led government took charge in May this year.

Out of this, poachers killed five rhinos in Kaziranga National Park and one in Orang National Park in little over two months, she said.

Brahma said 22 rhinos were killed in natural calamity (flood) and 21 had natural deaths across Kaziranga, Manas and Pobitora forest areas.

Asked about the horns from the dead rhinos, she said her department could fetch only 18 horns from Kaziranga and one from Manas.

The minister, however, did not explain the reasons for not recovering the horns of other dead rhinos.

She informed the house that Kaziranga, Manas and Orang national parks house 2,532 world famous one-horned rhinos as per latest census.

Assam has five national parks -- Kaziranga, Manas, Orang, Nameri and Dibru-Saikhowa -- with a total land area of 1,977.79 square km.

Brahma said that out of these five parks, some areas under second, third and fifth additions in Kaziranga National Park have been encraoched and the Revenue Department has not handed over these land to the forest department.

In response to a query by AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam during the Question Hour, she said a total of 397 animals were killed in Kaziranga, Orang and Manas national parks due to flood this year.

Brahma also informed the House that Forest Department, NGOs and locals have rescued 113 animals from flood in Kaziranga, Dibru-Saikhowa and Orang parks.

The Minister said there are 111 highlands inside the Kaziranga National Park for animals to take shelter during flood, but these need urgent repair.

"We need to raise the heights and also increase the number of such highlands. This time animal fatalities were little more as some highlands also came under water," Brahma added. TR KK CPS

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