Guwahati: In the second poaching incident in Kaziranga National Park this year, the body of a 20-year-old dehorned rhino was found in the Northern range of the park at Biswanath Chariali on Sunday.
Meanwhile, five elephants were run over and killed by a speeding passenger train in Assam’s Hojai district late on Saturday.
“An adult male rhino was killed by poachers at Polokata Tapu near Silamari area in Kaziranga National Park's sixth addition in northern range. Five rounds of .303 empty cartridges have been recovered from the site,” said Divisional Forest Officer of Kaziranga National Park, Rohini Saikia.
Biswanath police are assisting forest officials in a search operation launched in the area with the dog squad pressed into service.
Locals in Biswanth have demanded of the forest department to ensure security to the other rhinos presently taking shelter at the Northern Range. Six rhinos were killed in Kaziranga National Park last year.
The herd of elephants were mowed down by the speeding 15611 Guwahati-Silchar Fast passenger train between Hawaipur and Lumakhang station under Lumding Division of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), an elephant corridor. Assam Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma announced that an FIR would be lodged against NFR for the incident.
“Despite having regular talks with the railway authorities, and the imposition of speed restriction of 30kmph along elephant corridors, I fail to understand the repeated negligence on their part. They have built a fence around the elephant corridor restricting free movement of animals. That needs to be removed immediately,” Brahma said.
Minister of state for railways Rajen Gohain said that a train can’t slow down at will.
“We are adhering to speed restrictions along all elephant corridors. In some cases, elephant herds appear in areas that are not notified corridors,” said Gohain.
However, a notification issued by the forest department in 2016, a copy of which is available with News18, designated the area as an elephant corridor.
So far, six elephants have been killed by speeding trains this year in Assam. In 2017, nine elephants were killed while in 2016, the figure stood at eight.