The Centre will create a Special Rhino Protection Force in Assam to protect the animal from poaching and form a task force to enquire into encroachment of forest land in the state, Union environment and forests minister Prakash Javadekar said on Saturday.
"We will have zero tolerance for rhino poaching. With the help of Central funds, a Special Rhino Protection Force will be created in Assam," Javadekar told reporters here.
Primarily local youths would form the Force as they knew both the forests and animals, said the minister, who was on a two-day visit to Assam for discussing the poaching and encroachment issues in Kaziranga National Park (KNP).
The minister said that 22 rhinos had been killed this year, while 24 poachers were arrested and 20 others lost their lives in encounters with security forces.
On encroachment of forest land, Javadekar said "we'll form a task force which will formulate a mechanism and enquire into the issue of encroachment in forests. It will talk to the state government on the issue.
"I have told the state government that if there is any encroachment, then enquire it and take necessary action. In the next six months, we'll evaluate the work done by the Centre and the state," he said.