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When a Constitutional Head bats for wildlife
Nava Thakuria
When a Constitutional Head bats for wildlife
PHOTO : Tripura, Assam Governor PB Acharya addressing a press conference Raj Bhavan, Agartala. TIWn File Photo

Unlike other Constitutional Heads of India, Assam Governor Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya bats for the conservation of wildlife, primarily the one-horned rhinos (scientific name Rhinoceros unicornis) in various forest reserves of Assam.

Governor Acharya, who is also in charge of Tripura and Nagaland, has made it clear that he would not be a mute spectator on the unabated poaching incidents of wildlife.
Expressing serious concern over the ongoing poaching of single horn rhinos in Kaziranga National Park, which is also an UNESCO world heritage site, Governor Acharya commented, “We must all realize that it is our foremost responsibility to immediately and relentlessly nip in the bud the nefarious activities of the poachers, who are enemies of the nation, with the trust of people.”
Stating rhinos as the highest pride of Assam, the Governor added, “We are accountable to the people of Assam and the nation. Our inefficiency may result in an ecological void which may never ever be filled again.”
The rhinos are protected under India’s powerful wildlife protection act which has been under implementation in the entire country since 1972, but Assam continues to lose the precious animals, which are being killed for their rhinos. Kaziranga alone lost 27 rhinos to the poachers last year and the casualties of the precious animals in the protested forest reserve this year has soared up to seven till March.
Indian Union Environment & Forests minister Prakash Javadekar also admitted that  poaching of rhinos was a major challenge for the authority in the continuous conservation efforts. “Poaching has to be stopped. Therefore, the Wildlife Crime Bureau and the government have taken pro-active measures. I have visited Kaziranga, where we are creating a Rhino Protection Force with the assistance of the State of Assam,” said Javadekar.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi recently announced for a Rhino Protection Force with more than twelve hundred personnel for the protection of rhinos.

Gogoi also added that Assam government was looking for high-end equipments like night vision devices, thermal scanners, surveillance cameras, GPS and green drones to deal with menace of notorious poachers.
Governor Acharya has found a supporter in a journalist body of Assam. Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) repeated its old demand to conduct a transparent forensic test of all rhino horns preserved by the State forest department.
“The illegal trade of rhino horns must be stopped to preserve the large animals both in Asia and Africa. We suspect that some elements inside the State forest department continue links with the international traders for their selfish interest,” said JFA president Rupam Barua.
He also added that unless the people of Assam are given the authentic information about rhino horns in the government custody, the trade with replacement of real rhino horns with fake ones would continue, which must not be allowed.

[ Mr. Nava Thakuria is a Senior Journalist, Environment Journalist based in Guwahati, writes on various issues to Media across Asia, Secretary of JFA (Journalists’ Forum of Assam ) ]

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