New Delhi: Taking a serious view of killing of rhinos by poachers in Kaziranga National Park in Assam, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan on Thursday ordered a probe and sought its report within a week.
"I am shocked. It is very shocking that unscrupulous poachers have exploited the situation of natural disaster (floods) and attacked helpless animals which were seeking shelter. I have ordered a probe by a team of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) officials," she told a news agency.
"I take serious view of such incidents," the minister said. She said she has asked the team to submit its report in a week`s time and added that she would "ensure that the guilty are punished”.
The four-member team comprises C Behra, WCCB regional deputy director, Kolkata, AK Jha, assistant director (Intelligence), Delhi, L Kuruvilla, assistant director, Chennai, and KK Sarma, wildlife inspector, Delhi.
The minister has asked the probe team to rush to Kaziranga for the inquiry.
Officials in the ministry said the team will also seek assistance from the local agencies for detailed investigation to bust gangs of poachers involved.
The probe follows reports that a female rhinoceros was left bleeding by poachers who sawed off its horn and cut off a part of its right ear after shooting it and a carcass of another rhino with its horn removed was found at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam`s Golaghat district. Another rhino was killed in the national park today.
The killing of the rhinos has sparked off protests by All Assam Students` Union, Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad and Krishak Mukti Sangram Parishad who blocked National Highway 37 which runs through the park.