The six World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) volunteers militants had abducted from western Assam's Manas National Park on Sunday are expected to be released in 24 hours. The six are said to be unharmed.
Hope for the abducted WWF volunteers whisked away during a tiger census exercise has, however, concided with a dampener from Unesco. The UN body has been monitoring Manas for elevating it from its present World Heritage Site in Danger status.
"We have been negotiating with the abductors and we hope the six volunteers would be released by Wednesday," said the park's field director Anindya Swargiary. He declined to say if the abductors --National Democratic Front of Boroland rebels -- have demanded ransom for their release.
"This (kidnapping) is a setback for Manas," said Unesco representative Ram Bhuj in New Delhi.
Nothing went right for Manas, also a tiger reserve, after it was made a World Heritage Site in 1985. Tribal militants virtually laid siege to the park leading to the demotion in its global status by mid-1990s.
But things had been looking up for the park after the formation of the Bodoland Territorial Council in 2003. A series of animal translocation programme subsequently saw its rhino, elephant and tiger population increasing in the past few years.