Guwahati: The famous Orang wildlife sanctuary in lower Assam is facing an uncertain future because of official apathy.
There are no adequate forest staff to man the sanctuary which is a natural habitat for the endangered one-horned rhinos.
Popularly known as the Rajiv Gandhi national park, the sanctuary, situated on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, also hosts some other rare animals.
Recently, at least 25 home guards, who had taken leave during Durga Puja, refused to join duty complaining that they had not been paid their regular wages, sources in the wildlife park said.
The park has a total forest guard strength of 200, including 68 home guards.
The picturesque park, only a couple of hours` drive from Guwahati, stands in sharp contrast to the Kaziranga National Park, Pabitora game sanctuary and Manas tiger reserve which have attracted funds and attention from the state government.
Similarly, 49 casual staff, who work in 40 different anti-poaching camps, were not paid monthly wages for the last five months.
Another revelation is that even the regular staff did not receive their due money for ration which has severely affected the morale of the guards, leaving the park at the mercy of poachers.
As an inevitable result, the park has been hit by poaching. Recently a network has been detected by the authorities which poachers from the "char" (riverine) areas at Lahorighat and Moirabari use to get access to the park.
Poachers from neighbouring Nagaland also target the sanctuary - a fact which came to light following a recent exchange of fire between forest guards and poachers.
In the past two years, eight poachers have been killed and 49 persons arrested for involvement in the racket of poaching.
Forest officials here admitted that the park was facing an uncertain future what with lack of adequate staff and guards and said it is high time proper attention was paid to the sanctuary.
``We are also planning to involve local people and make them aware that wildlife was their proud possessions,`` an official said requesting for anonymity.