Kaziranga National Park Current Affairs - 2019
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An 82-member Special Rhino Protection Force which is trained to combat poachers and understand animal behaviour was recently deployed in Kaziranga National Park (KNP).
About Special Rhino Protection Force
Background: The process of setting up special force was initiated in 2015. In July 2018 members recruited were given appointment letter after which they were trained at Forest Guard School in eastern Assam’s Makum. All recruits also underwent weapons training at 9th Assam Police Battalion in Nagaon district of Assam.
SRPF: Basically SRPF is a tiger protection force that was named after the rhino since threat of poaching is more for one-horned herbivore.
Raised by: This Special Force has been raised by initiative of both central as well as state governments so as to control rhino poaching in tiger reserve. The state government of Assam would be paying salaries of SRPF members and amount would be reimbursed by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which recommended setting up of this special force.
Members: It consists of 82 personnel among whom eight are women. Out of 82 SRPF personnel, 60 have been assigned ranges under Eastern Assam Wildlife Division on southern bank of river Brahmaputra.
Task: SRPF personnel will be posted under 8 ranges of Kaziranga National Park (KNP) to control rhino poaching as well as protecting striped cat (tiger poaching) since Kaziranga is also a tiger reserve.
About Kaziranga National Park
Background: The 430 sq.km national park is located in Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam. In 1968 it was given National Park status and in 1985 it was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) for its unique natural environment.
Known for: It is home to World’s largest population of One Horned Rhinoceros i.e. about 68%. The one-horned rhinoceroses are listed as vulnerable on IUCN Red list of Threatened Species. It is also recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International for conservation of avifaunal species.
It encompasses 8 ranges under two wildlife divisions: (1) Eastern Assam and (2) Biswanath along the river Brahmaputra.
Tags: Birdlife International • IUCN Red list of Threatened Species • Kaziranga National Park • National Tiger Conservation Authority • One-horned rhinoceros • Special Rhino Protection Force • UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has undertaken a project to create DNA Profiles of all rhinos present in India. The project which would formally be underway by end of 2019 is set to be completed by 2021 (project’s deadline).
About: After the completion of project, Indian rhino could become India’s first wild animal species to have all its members DNA-sequenced. The database so collected will be hosted in Wildlife Institute of India (WII) headquarters in Dehradun.
Project Highlights: The project being undertaken is a subset of India’s larger, already ongoing Rhino Conservation Programme.
Population: In India, there are about 2,600 rhinos and more than 90% of Indian Rhino population is concentrated in Kaziranga National Park, Assam.
Since 1980s, Indian government is trying to move significant number of rhinos out of Kaziranga. The aim behind it is in interest of the species’ conservation, threats they face from poaching and challenges to their current habitat. Some other locations for translocating are in Assam itself like Manas National Park and Pobitara Wildlife Sancutary.
Project Proponents: includes World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) and Centre-funded Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
Current Updates: around 60 samples of tissue of rhinos living outside Kaziranga have been collected so far and researchers are also extracting DNA samples from dung.
Importance: DNA Database exercise would be useful to curb killing and poaching and collecting evidence in wildlife crimes involving rhinos.
Rhino Species: There are three species of rhinos, out of which only one species ‘the Indian rhino’ is found in India.
Tags: Assam • DNA Database • DNA Profiles • DNA Sequencing • Kaziranga National Park • Manas National Park • Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change • Pobitara Wildlife Sancutary • Rhino Conservation Programme • Wildlife Institute of India • World Wide Fund for Nature-India