Kaziranga to get drone to check poaching, says minister

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 21, 2013 15:00 hrs

Guwahati, Feb 21 (IANS) The central environment and forest ministry has cleared the proposal for aerial surveillance of Assam's Kaziranga National Park, using an unmanned aircraft, a drone, to prevent poaching of rhinos, a state minister said Thursday.

The state government is now awaiting approval of the home and defence ministries, Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain told media persons on the sidelines of a function for flagging off 300 more elite personnel of the Assam Forest Protection Force (AFPF) to the park.

The state government has also been considering the proposal of constructing satellite based electronic eye towers in the park for better monitoring of the wildlife.

Union Environment and Forest Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, during her visit to the park last year, announced that the central government will provide the park with a remote-controlled unmanned aircraft for better surveillance of the rhinos and other wildlife species in the park.

The development assumes significance considering the recent spate in rhino poaching in Assam, particularly inside the protected areas of the state including the Kaziranga National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

While over 40 one-horned rhinos have been killed in Assam last year, including 12 killed by poachers, a total of nine rhinos have been killed by poachers this year.

The Assam forest department recently divided the national park into four new divisions for better security and monitoring of the wildlife.

"We have also decided to enforce shoot-at-sight inside the park to deal with the poachers, who often intrude into the park to kill rhinos for their horns," said Hussain, adding that they would also go for a fresh rhino census in the park after the flood season this year.

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