Bicycles provided to Kaziranga staff to gear up rhino vigil (State of Assam, India)

Original photo as published in the Shillong Times.

The Shillong Times | December 10, 2020

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GUWAHATI: Frontline forest staff in Bokakhat Range of Kaziranga National Park (KNP), a World Heritage Site as recognized by the UNESCO,  have been provided with a few bi-cycles for the first time to carry out patrolling on river isles to safeguard rhinos that stray out during winter months.

During winter when the Brahmaputra river bed almost gets dried up, one-horned rhinos from Kaziranga National Park stray out of the core area and head towards Majuli river island through Bokakhat Range (Eastern Range) of the National Park.

The eastern range of the KNP is dotted with several river isles (chapori in local parlance) which have contiguity with Majuli island across the mighty river.

Frontline Forest personnel posted in camps in Bokakhat Range face a tough time every winter to divert back as well as to keep track of those straying rhinos from heading towards faraway Majuli island. The straying rhinos become too vulnerable to poaching.

However, carrying out patrolling on those sand bar islands with usual Gypsy vehicles or motorcycles is not possible for the forest personnel because of lack of any road as well as logistics. All the time they are forced to trail those straying rhinos on foot for long distances.

Biodiversity Conservation organization, Aaranyak has decided to provide these bi-cycles to these forest staff hoping that these cycles will help them keep track of straying rhinos to a greater extent and the national park authority too has welcomed the move which may give a new dimension to rhino protection in eastern range of the National Park.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aaranyak, Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, globally recognized rhino conservation expert and the Director of the KNP, P Shivkumar today handed over six bi-cycles to frontline forest staff at a function held at Bhakte Chapori forest camp under Bokakhat Range. A bi-cycle repairing kit was provided with each of the cycles.

The function was graced by Divisional Forest Officer, Ramesh Gogoi, honorary Wildlife Warden Uttam Saikia, Deputy Conservators of Forest, Pradip Kumar Burma and Khargaram Dekaroja, Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF), Ritupaban Bora, Ranger Dr Indrani Borgohain besides frontline staff from forest camps at Bhakte Chapori, Gabharu, Sisubari and Moriahola.