The environment ministry is set to deliver on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election promise of setting up a mechanism to protect the threatened single-horn rhinos endemic to Kaziranga national park.
Sources said the new environment minister Prakash Javadekar has asked officials to set up a task force to recommend measures to be implemented in the Kaziranga — a World Heritage Site – and other rhino habitats in Assam. There has been an increase in poaching rhinos in recent years because of the jump in global demand for their horns. There are 2,505 rhinos in Assam of which 2,290 are in Kaziranga.
As many as 115 rhinos have been killed by poachers in the last decade with 40 being shot dead in 2012 alone – the highest for any single year. About eight rhinos have fallen prey to poachers this year.
The task force would have members from the Assam forest department and some independent experts on rhino protection.
Modi during election campaign in Assam has raised the issue of protection of Rhinos and had accused the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government in the state of allowing killing of the endangered species to allow settlement of illegal migrants.