Monday, 17 January 2011
Cameras for tiger study capture poachers at Orang
Guwahati, Jan. 13: Camera traps, which up to now have clicked pictures of wildlife in Assam, have now for the first time taken pictures showing poachers at Orang National Park.
Revealing this at a news conference today, Assam principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Suresh Chand, said pictures taken by camera traps hung on trees have been able to take pictures of a group of poachers who had killed a rhino on January 9. “Cameras which were placed in the trees got the pictures of poachers who were moving in the area. The poachers had come with an intent to kill a rhino,” Chand said.
The poachers were carrying .303 rifles.
Camera trapping is being done by Aaranyak, a wildlife NGO, at Orang National Park for tiger estimation. Around 70 cameras have been put up at strategic locations in the park.
Chand said the poachers, who are believed to be the same, came on January 5. They, however, succeeded in killing a rhino on January 9.
Chand said on January 9, the poachers had changed their route and were successful in killing the rhino.
Divisional forest officer of Orang National Park S.K. Daila said the poachers had adopted a new strategy of shooting the rhino at night. “We have seen poachers striking at dusk or in the wee hours. However, these poachers shot the rhino around 1.30am. They fired from very close range,” he said.
The staff on duty on January 9, N. Chamua, will be put under suspension. “We suspect that he was conniving with the poachers,” Chand said.
The official said the poachers were from outside the area and the pictures have been sent to nearby police stations.
“The forest department has announced a reward of Rs 25,000 for identifying the poachers,” he said.
Chand said the killing of a rhino in Orang took place after a year.
In the entire state in 2010, there were seven instances of rhino poaching while in 2009 there were 14 cases.
In 2009, the number of rhinos in Orang was 64 rhinos while in 2006, 68 rhinos were recorded.
Firoz Ahmed of Aaranyak, who has been looking after the tiger trapping exercise through cameras in Orang, said the poachers came in coincidentally when the cameras were on. “The cameras are placed strategically so that pictures can be taken and are not meant to take pictures of poachers specifically,” Ahmed said.
In the 2009 tiger camera trapping report of Aaranyak in collaboration with forest department, seven tigers, including two males and five females,were recorded in Orang National Park.
Two poachers were killed in an encounter with forestguards in July last year and several arms and ammunition were recovered from them. Another poacher was killed in March last year.
Chand said an elephant census would be held simultaneously with neighbouring states like Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and West Bengal. The dates have been fixed for February 21-26.