Jayanthi Natarajan visits Kaziranga over rhino killings

Jayanthi Natarajan visits Kaziranga over rhino killings

Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan and senior wildlife officials Wednesday took stock of the situation in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam following a recent spate of rhino killings in the park.

"Jayanthi Natarajan along with National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) director Rajesh Gopal and other wildlife officials will hold meetings with authorities, NGOs and local people to understand the situation leading to the rhino deaths," a senior ministry official here said.

Since January this year, 39 one-horned rhinos have died, including 11 killed by poachers, in the national park - a Unesco World Heritage site.

The ministry had ordered an investigation into the killings. "The probe committee will submit the final report to minister soon," the official added.

There were protests across the state, particularly after poachers chopped off the horns of two rhinos near the park - allegedly when the animals were still alive.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi then announced that the government would get the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the killings.

The state government also deployed the army and central paramilitary forces in areas adjoining the park to protect the animals, particularly the rhinos, who stray out of the park during flood season.