The Assam Police, Forest Department and wildlife conservation groups have come forward to mobilise people and reactivate the Village Defence Parties (VDP) to encourage villagers around Kaziranga National Park in their efforts to mitigate wildlife crisis.
The initiative aims at strengthening roadside vigilance and ensure wildlife security in Kaziranga, a Unesco world heritage site and home to the rare one-horn rhinoceros, has over the years turned into a hot bed for animal poaching. The park has also seen gruesome killing of other animals.
During monsoon, as the park gets flooded, many animals get run over by speeding vehicles while wandering in search of higher grounds outside the park area. Some enter human habitats. In times of crisis for the animals of Kaziranga, the first responders are the villagers who live in the fringes of the park. They have always ensured animal safety.
They would also be used to gather local intelligence on animal poachers and their networks. In the past 10 years, more than 1,000 rhinos have been killed, most of them have been poached in Kaziranga.
Aaranyak, a society for conservation of biodiversity, in association with Assam police and authorities of Kaziranga National park, on Thursday distributed kits to the VDPs of the fringe villages around Kaziranga, so that these first responders can effectively address to wildlife crisis.
“We are very happy to receive the rain coat, torch and shoes. As we patrol the forest at night, we face dangers of snake bite. Often it rains and it makes patrolling difficult,” said Dipen Daimari, an a VDP volunteer from Kilinggaon village.
VDPS of 14 fringe villages prone to man-animal conflicts were also given kits containing raincoats, shoes, torches and caps. “Rhino poaching has declined considerably due to the combined and diligent efforts of the administration, the Village Defence Patrol and civil society organisations like Aaranyak. We need to take this good work a step ahead,” said Gaurav Upadhyay, the Sub Divisional Police Officer.