GUWAHATI: Rattled by the unabated killings of rhinos, Assam Forest Minister Atuwa Munda on Friday appealed to the poachers to look for an alternative source of income. “The poachers are also the citizens of the country. I appeal to them to look for some other avenues, including business, to eke out a living,” Munda said.
He donned the mantle of the Forest Department last month following a reshuffle of Tarun Gogoi Cabinet.
Soon after assuming charge, he had said that his first job would be to refurbish the image of the department, which had received considerable flak over its failure to stop the killings of the endangered animal.
“By killing the animal, the poachers won’t get the kind of money which they are hoping … Killing the animals is only a cowardly act,” the minister said. “I appeal to them to refrain from poaching and join the mainstream. They should lead a life like others in the society,” the minister said. His assertions came hours after the killing of a rhino at Kaziranga National Park.
During his visit to the park on Friday, the minister said a probe had been ordered into the incident.
“The investigation will be conducted by a Chief Conservator of Forests. We have placed the ranger concerned under suspension,” the minister said.
He warned that the department would not tolerate poaching and firmly deal with such cases.
This is the seventh incident of rhino killing reported in the state so far this year. Over 200 rhinos had fallen prey to the bullets of poachers in the state since 2001.