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Commandos trained by NSG to combat poachers
Guwahati, Jun 25 (IANS):
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Published on 25 Jun. 2010 11:15 PM IST
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At least 250 forest guards are getting commando training from the elite National Security Guard (NSG) in Assam to combat poacher gangs operating in wildlife sanctuaries, officials Friday said. A wildlife spokesperson said the three-month training module includes use of sophisticated weapons, martial arts and physical fitness, besides other specialized training.
“The training would help them deal with poachers more effectively. This is a rigorous training schedule. Once they complete it, the difference would become visible,” said Girish Dutta, one of the trainers. The training is being held at the Assam Forest School on the outskirts of Guwahati. The recruits would get year-long training after completion of the short three-month course.
Most of the trained commandos would be deployed at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam to check a spurt in incidents of rhino slaughtering by organised syndicates.
The commandos would assist forest guards at Kaziranga and other wildlife sanctuaries in Assam.
“The idea to impart commando training is aimed at assisting the park authorities so that poaching by organised gangs can be checked, besides helping in the park’s overall protection,” a wildlife official said.
Eight rhinos were killed this year, 18 in 2008 and 14 in 2009. This is the first time in a decade that the number of rhinos killed in a year has touched the double digit figure.
Between 1980 and 1997, some 550 rhinos were killed by poachers in the wilds of Kaziranga, the highest being 48 in 1992. “In 2008, we decided to deploy the army to combat poachers but the move failed as locals protested, saying the presence of the army would vitiate the atmosphere,” the official said.
As per a 2009 census report, 2,048 of the world’s estimated 3,000 one-horned rhinos lumber around the swamps and grasslands of Kaziranga, their concentration here ironically making the giant mammals a favourite target of poachers.
Poachers kill rhinos for their horns, which many believe contain aphrodisiac qualities, besides being used as medicines for curing fever, stomach ailments and other diseases in parts of Asia.
Rhino horn is also much fancied by buyers from the Middle East who turn them into handles of ornamental daggers.
Profits in the illegal rhino horn trade are staggering. A rhino horn sells for up to Rs.1.5 million per kg in the international market. Once extracted, the rhino horn is routed to agents in places like Dimapur in Nagaland, Imphal in Manipur and Siliguri in West Bengal.

 
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