The West Bengal forest department has handed over the probe into the poaching of two one-horned rhinos in the Gorumara National Park to the state CID, a minister said on Saturday. Following the recovery of two rhino carcasses earlier this month in the park, the state government formed a committee to look into the matter. The leads for the rhino poaching in Gorumara emerged after the discovery of rhino horns after a road accident in Assam in March, allegedly involving a group of smugglers.
“Now we have given the responsibility to the Criminal Investigation Department for further probe. One rhino was poached in February and the other in March. We are in constant touch with our counterparts in Assam,” Bengal Forest Minister Binoy Krishna Burman told IANS on Saturday. Burman also said the incidents indicate the involvement of Manipur militants.
“We are observing that in majority of these incidents, those involved are from Manipur, specifically the militants,” he said. Gorumara, spanning 80 sq.km, is situated beside National Highway 31, which connects Siliguri and Guwahati in Assam. It has 50 rhinos. Burman also denied reports of Gorumara’s largest rhino Khara Singh going missing. “No this is not correct. I have photographic evidence,” he said.
Asked whether the state government had received any tip-offs regarding poachers targeting Bengal in the wake of the shoot-at-sight order against poachers in Assam, Burman replied in the negative. “No. We are always alert,” he said, adding the Bengal government is in talks with Karnataka to receive 15 ‘kunki’ (trained) elephants for added protection and monitoring of the rhinos.