Assam forest guards better equipped to protect Rhinos | WWF India

Assam forest guards better equipped to protect Rhinos

Posted on
11 June 2009
They may be ancient, but Indian Rhinos are threatened. Protecting them is difficult and dangerous too. But these magnificent creatures might have a safe future, as forest guards can protect them better, thanks to WWF-India and partner organisations.

On 30th and 31st May 2009 WWF-India and Assam Forest Department, with support from the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020) partners, including Basel Zoo, Switzerland trained forest guards of rhino bearing protected areas of Assam, northeast India. The venue was Rajiv Gandhi Orang, a 78 sq km national park, located north of the mighty River Brahmaputra. This park is home to Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), one of world’s most endangered mammals.

This training was attended by over 30 forest guards, including temporary staff. The trainees were from Rajiv Gandhi Orang, Kaziranga and Manas National Parks as well as Pobitara Wildlife Sanctuary. In the two days of training, participants were taught to handle and maintain firearms. They were trained in different combat and ambush techniques. The teams discussed rhino monitoring methods and control measures to prevent their straying. Sessions on map reading, handling navigation equipment like GPS (Geographic Position System) and directional compass, as well as night vision binoculars and radio telemetry were held.

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The participants were also oriented on the provisions of the national Wildlife Protection Act. Basic procedures under the Act like preparation of seizure reports and ways to effectively present a case to their seniors and later a magistrate were discussed by a senior advocate from the Gawhati High Court.

Forest guards, across the range of the Indian Rhino, are up against mini ‘armies’ of organised and well-oiled professional poachers. The training is an important milestone in the state’s wildlife protection, as earlier the guards lacked the confidence to fight back. Until now they neither had access to modern arms nor had the skills. This event is expected to change quite a few things. According to Amit Sharma, Co-ordinator Rhino Conservation, WWF-India, “This training has found resonance with the guards. They are eager for repeat sessions. We now expect them to be better prepared when facing poachers. Also, this training has turned out to be a successful platform for them to share their learning and experience.”

IRV 2020 aims to build a 3,000 strong rhino population across seven protected areas in Assam by the year 2020. And this can be achieved only if the existing population is protected from the threat of poachers, apart from expanding the range of rhinos through translocations. This exercise is a bold step in that direction.

For more information, please contact:
Dr Dipankar Ghose
Head- EHTA(Eastern Himalayas and Terai Arc)
Ph: +91 11-41504782

Ameen Ahmed,
Senior Manager, Communications,
Species Conservation Programme,
Mob: +91-9654440590,
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