Laokhowa set to regain status
Guwahati, Jan. 27: The Laokhowa wildlife sanctuary in Nagaon is picking up the threads to regain its status as a rhino habitat after two decades.
The rhino population at Laokhowa was wiped out in 1983 when poachers killed 40 rhinos during the Assam agitation.
“People are now understanding the value of wildlife conservation,” C. Muthu Kumaravel, the divisional forest official of Nagaon wildlife division, told this correspondent. He said a number of initiatives had been taken in the last couple of years to put it back on track.
“The sanctuary can start becoming the home for rhinos within a year with more protection,” he said.
The sanctuary is located on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra and has an area of 70.13 square km. It is part of the Laokhowa-Bura Chapori eco-system. The Laokhowa and Bura Chapori wildlife sanctuaries together have been identified as a potential rhino habitat under the Indian Rhino Vision 2020.
Laokhowa has 35 camps with all the necessary logistics and mobile camps, barring these 35 camps. “Felling of trees has been reduced to a manageable level,” the official said.
The staff at the sanctuary are now being trained on GPS and technological equipment.
Pranjit Sarma of Aaranyak, who carried out a habitat-mapping in Laokhowa from 1970 to 2004, said the rhino habitat was still intact.
The Laokhowa and Bura Chapori sanctuaries are also part of the Kaziranga tiger reserve. Both Laokhowa and Bura Chapori are part of the Kaziranga-Orang riverine landscape, which has been identified as a major gateway for straying animals within the protected areas of central Assam.
Laokhowa was declared a reserve forest in 1907, a game sanctuary in 1916 and was upgraded to a wildlife sanctuary in 1979. It is surrounded by villages on almost all sides except in the north, where the Bura-Chapori sanctuary is located.
The official said 28 eco development committees had been set up to involve people in wildlife conservation.
The Laokhowa Bura Chapori Wildlife Conservation Society, formed in 2009, has helped to bring together people from all walks of life for conservation.
It has been entrusted with the responsibility of preparing the buffer area management plan (Laokhowa-Burha Chapori wildlife sanctuary component) of the Kaziranga tiger reserve. The draft copy has already been submitted to the authorities, the co-ordinator of the society, Smarajit Ojah, said.