CBI to probe Assam’s rhino poaching cases

Guwahati, April 7 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will probe the cases of poaching of rhinos in Assam, Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain said Sunday.

Interacting with media persons here, he said the state government is also planning to conduct an aerial survey of Kaziranga National Park from Monday, using a “hobby plane” on a trial basis.

“The union department of personnel and grievances has accepted the state government’s proposal for a CBI probe into the cases of rhino poaching in the state,” said the minister.

“However, the modalities of the probe will be finalised later by the concerned department,” he said.

On the aerial survey, the minister said it will be done by the state forest department in association with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

“This is for the first time in the country that such an aerial survey will be done for security of the wildlife species,” he said and added that the trial will be continued for four days in Kaziranga National Park.

Hussain said that WII scientist K. Ramesh and WWF’s C. Williams will monitor the whole exercise of flying the hobby plane.

“The hobby plane runs on solar power and it will help the park authority to intensify security mechanism inside the famous national park,” he said.

The Assam government has urged the central government to allow use of unmanned aircraft to intensify vigil in the national park last year – particularly after the spate in rhino poaching.

Although the proposal recently received approval from the home and environment and forests ministries, it is yet to receive sanction from the defence ministry.

Both the moves assume significance in view of the fact that a total of 16 one-horned rhinos have been killed in the state by poachers since January this year.

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