File picture of forest officials standing near the site where a rhino was killed last month at Manas National Park
The National Tiger Conservation Authority has said rhino poaching in Manas has dealt a “big blow” to the translocation initiative.
This was stated in a status report on Rhinos in Manas in STRIPES, the bimonthly outreach journal of NTCA, in their latest issue.
“Unfortunately, despite the best efforts and intentions of all stakeholders, poaching reared its ugly head. Given the small number of rhinos in the park, the killing of four rhinos (now six) has been a big blow to the translocation initiative,” the authority said.
An NTCA team had visited the reserve and efforts are on to support the state to strengthen monitoring and field protection.
The World Heritage Committee, early this year, had said killing of the translocated rhinos in Manas National Park has endangered the re-establishment of the species.
The tiger authority says factors revolving around poaching in Manas extend far beyond the site at various levels, both spatially as well as in terms of ethnic identity and politics.
A high-level meeting, which was held to discuss the security scenario in Manas early this year, said there are complex social, political and security dynamics involved in the matter.
However, the NTCA did not mention anything about Bodoland Territorial Council, which is an important factor in the conservation of Manas and on the increase in encroachment.
Despite the best efforts of the park authorities, 912 persons could not be relocated from Panbari range although they had been promised financial help.
It also said nothing on the action taken on poaching incidents in the park as there have been reports of militants roaming freely and setting up camps inside Manas.
Reports of “alleged telephone calls” made to WWF officials by militants demanding money have also sparked concern.
Confirming the use of sophisticated weapons in poaching, the bullets for which have been recovered, the NTCA says this directly points to outlawed militant groups, remnants of former insurgent groups of the region. “While the major groups have been largely brought under control and rehabilitated into normal civilian life, some splinter parties remain,” it said.
“As in case of other countries with rhinos, and to a lesser extent in India, extensive protection systems are no guarantee to completely controlling poaching,” it added.
The tiger authority said there is hope for emerging successfully from the current situation. “Nature itself has shown the way of survival. The translocated rhinos giving birth is ample proof that there indeed exists suitable habitat for this unique species to survive and breed,” the report stated.