UNESCO World Heritage Site Current Affairs - 2019

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Kaziranga National Park: Special Rhino Protection Force deployed

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.

Elephanta Festival of Art and Culture begins

The Elephanta Festival of art and culture commenced at the iconic Gateway of India in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The festival was inaugurated by state Tourism Minister Jaykumar Rawal who highlighted government’s commitment towards boosting Elephanta island tourism in all possible ways.

Key Features

Background: The Elephanta Festival of art and culture was started in 2012 and since then is held every year to promote tourism and culture of Mumbai. It is held on Gharapuri island (also known as Elephanta Island) where Elephanta Caves are located.

The annual gala event is organised on Elephanta Island by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). It is promoted by Maharashtra government.

About Elephanta Caves

  • They are the rock-cut Caves and were constructed around the mid-5th to 6th centuries AD. They are a collection of cave temples primarily dedicated to Lord Shiv but also have Buddhist caves.
  • The island was renamed as Elephanta from Gharapuri (which means the city of caves) by Portuguese after they found a statue of an elephant on island.
  • Elephanta Caves is currently maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.