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Coronavirus: Assam government urged to suspend tourist entry inside national parks, state zoo (India)

By March 17, 2020Conservation
Northeast Now | March 15, 2020

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GUWAHATI: As preventive measures against coronavirus, the Kaziranga Wildlife Society (KWS) has urged the Assam government to suspend all tourist entries inside the national parks, sanctuaries and the Assam State Zoo.

Stating that the tourist entries be suspended with immediate effect, the KWS said there has been a high risk of spread of the deadly virus from the unscreened tourists to other people.

“From mahouts to drivers, guides and forest guards, people, working in these wildlife-bearing areas, have become vulnerable as the tourist season is on and there have been no check-in tourist entries,” said Mubina Akhtar, secretary, KWS.

Original photo as published by NE Now News: Jeep safari in KNP. (File image)

“From Kaziranga to Manas, Pobitora to Dibru-Saikhowa, we could still find tourists frequenting these Protected Areas (PAs),” said Akhtar.

“Our fear has been that we have a very limited number of people engaged in protection and cannot afford them to be off duty. We, therefore, urge the government to take necessary and urgent steps,” she added.

The world is battling the outbreak of coronavirus and there have been calls for a permanent ban on the illegal wildlife trade because of the public health risks it poses.

From rhino horn to geckos, pangolins, skin-paws- bones of tiger and other wild cats have been regularly smuggled to the markets in South Asia, said Akhtar.

“Dormant deadly viruses could be transmitted to humans through wildlife like bats, pangolins, geckos, etc. as these animals have been largely traded,” the conservationist claimed.