Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday praised the efforts of the people and the government of Assam in bringing down rhino poaching cases from 37 in 2013 to one in 2021.
“When there is a sincere effort, work is done with a noble intention, results also follow,” he said in his monthly radio programme ‘Mann ki Baat’.
Responding to the appreciation from PM Modi, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said his government is firm in ensuring that the menace of poaching of the iconic one-horned rhinoceros is eliminated.
The chief of the state’s anti-poaching squad and special DGP, GP Singh, also reiterated the resolve for stopping poaching altogether.
During the programme, the prime minister spoke of the poaching threat the one-horned rhinos of Assam had been facing over the years.
“To tackle this challenge, a huge campaign against the poaching of rhinoceros was launched in the last seven years with the special efforts of the Assam government,” he said.
PM Modi said more than 2,400 horns seized from smugglers were burnt on September 22 last year on the occasion of World Rhino Day.
“This was a stern message to the poachers. The result of such efforts is that now there is a steady decrease in the hunting of rhinos in Assam,” the PM said.
The number of rhinos killed was 37 in 2013, which decreased to two in 2020 and one in 2021, he said adding: “I appreciate the resolve of the people of Assam to save the rhinoceros.”
PM Modi also said Assam is synonymous with tea plantations and national parks, along with the one-horned rhinoceros, and this pachyderm has always been a part of Assamese culture.
The BJP had first come to power in the state in 2016 with incumbent Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal leading the government then. The saffron-party led coalition retained power for a second consecutive term in 2021 state polls, with Mr Sarma taking over the reins.
Thanking the prime minister in a series of tweets for acknowledging the anti-poaching activities, Mr Sarma wrote: “We’re immensely motivated by Hon PM Sri @narendramodi’s recognition of our efforts on single-horned Rhino conservation.”
“GoA with support of people shall ensure that menace of poaching of our precious icon is completely eliminated. Guidance of Adarniya PM is precious,” he added.
Stating that this Mann Ki Baat episode is ‘special for Assam’, Sarma said the PM did not only acknowledge the role of people in anti-poaching efforts but also made us nostalgic by playing the Kaziranga song of Bhupen Hazarika, who is “a perennial inspiration for Assam. Shows PM’s love for us.” Modi’s radio broadcast had included a part of late Hazarika’s song in Assamese language, with the prime minister later explaining the lyrics to his listeners.
“…the meaning of this song is very relevant. This song says, the lush green surroundings of Kaziranga, the abode of elephants and tigers, the Earth watches one horned rhinoceros and listens to the melodious chirping of birds. The images of the rhinoceros are also seen in the Moonga and Eri dresses woven on the world famous handlooms of Assam,” PM Modi said.
Assam Special DGP and Anti-Rhino Poaching Task Force Chief GP Singh also expressed his gratitude on Twitter to the prime minister for recognizing their efforts.
“It’s a moment of pride for @assampolice and @assamforest that Hon @PMOIndia has recognised our joint effort,” he said.
As the chief of the anti-poaching task force, Mr Singh complimented each man and woman for the “stupendous effort.” Though the poaching cases have come down significantly, the first suspected case of this year came to light on January 20 when the carcass of an adult female rhino with its horn missing was found inside the Kaziranga National Park.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)