Guwahati, Oct 13 (IANS) Barely 48 hours after the visit of union Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, suspected poachers struck in the Kaziranga National Park Saturday, attempting to hunt for one-horned rhinos.
"Some locals and forest guards heard gunshots from the Agaratoli range of the national park. The incident took place after noon," said a senior park official.
"We launched a combing operation immediately inside the park. The operation continued throughout the afternoon and evening, till dusk. We are concentrating on the arrest of the culprits, who are suspected to be still inside the park," said the park official, while adding that a 303 rifle was also recovered from the area.
He, however, refused to confirm whether any rhinos had been killed or not. "We cannot say whether any rhino was killed or not at this moment as it is now dark."
The park authorities will launch a search operation after daylight returns Sunday, to find out whether there has been any animal casualty due to the poaching attempt.
Jayanthi Natarajan had, during her maiden visit to the park Wednesday, announced that the central government would provide an unmanned remote-controlled aircraft and an electronic surveillance system for protecting the rhinos and other wildlife in the national park, which had recently witnessed a spurt in killing of flood-hit rhinos by poachers.
Natarajan had also announced a grant of Rs.1 crore for taking immediate measures to repair the damages caused by three successive waves of floods in the park, well known across the world for its one-horned rhinos and diversity of faunal resources.