Assam foresters get snaps of poachers

GUWAHATI: It's no longer beating around the bush to trace an unknown identity. Forest department officials in the state have got hold of some photographs of poachers involved in the killing of a rhino at the Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park on January 9.

Cameras placed inside the park to track tiger movement have revealed some striking snaps of a gun-toting man looking for animals in the Kacharibeti toop area of the forest where the pachyderm was killed on January 9.

"Some photographs of poachers got captured in cameras placed there to track movement of big cats," said Suresh Chand, principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) on Thursday.

He added that the man was wearing a red sweater. In another snap, he is seen accompanying another man inside the forest at night.

Orang National Park DFO Sushil Kumar Daila said he tried his best to protect the rhinos in the area after getting the pictures three days ahead of the poaching on January 6. "But unfortunately, we couldn't save the pachyderm," he added.

The PCCF said the government has declared a cash reward of Rs 25,000 for revealing proper identity of the poacher. Forest officials have already suspended Lila Chamua, a forest guard who was on duty in the Kacharibeti toop area post on the night of January 9.

"Chaumaua may have close links with the poachers. We suspect his involvement in the incident," added Chand. Forest officers have appealed to people to help them in detecting and arresting the culprits.

According to the forest department, rhino poaching was on the wane in the state last year. In 2010, seven rhinos were killed in the state out of which five were killed in Kaziranga and 2 at Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park.