Assam gets a new ‘forest queen’ in Pramila Rani

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rhino_poachingGUWAHATI: Pramila Rani Brahma is the new ‘forest queen’ of Assam. The State’s minister for forests and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) MLA has restored people’s faith in the BJP-led coalition government’s commitment to protect wildlife.

Ever since she took charge as the forest minister in May last year, rhino poaching has declined by 50 per cent. Curbing rhino-poaching was one of BJP’s poll promises.

Politicians have always dithered to take the portfolio fearing public backlash for not being able to prevent poaching and deaths of loved wildlife across national parks and sanctuaries in Assam.

In 2015, 20 rhinos were poached, 19 in Kaziranga National Park. In 2013, 42 rhinos were killed. With Brahma as forests minister, the number fell to 20 in 2016.

She has also curbed illegal forest activities by taking on timber smugglers, owners of illegal sawmills and stone quarries and wildlife mafias.

“My friends and well-wishers forbade me from becoming the forests minister as they were worried that I would be held responsible for rhino poaching. But I took it as a challenge,” Brahma said.

“Field officers realised what they were doing was wrong. They were forced to indulge in illegal activities earlier. Regular feedback from people also helped me in curbing illegal activities,” she said.

She admits it will be difficult to stop poaching completely. “There is no lack of frontline staff at Kaziranga, but their workload is more as it is a vast forest. Forest guards need to be armed with sophisticated weapons. Locals rightly think it is their park, but they are angry for the lack of job opportunities for them. We will fill 700 posts in the department, and over 100 will be reserved for locals of Kaziranga,” Brahma said.

RHINO POACHING

Year Total Killing Killing in Kaziranga
2012 29 22
2013 42 27
2014 36 28
2015 21 16
2016 20 19

 

Source: New Indian Express

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