Ten satellite phones handed over to Kaziranga National Park foresters

Guwahati, Aug 11 (PTI) The Assam government has handed over ten satellite phones to forest personnel in Kaziranga National Park as a step to boost up anti-poaching measures in the world-famed rhino habitat, officials said on Wednesday.

The satellite phones were handed over by Chief Secretary Jishnu Baruah to the park authorities on Tuesday.

The forest personnel will use the satellite phones in six ranges of the UNESCO world heritage site where mobile connectivity is poor.

Kaziranga is home to 2,413 one-horned rhinos, the world’s largest population of the species, according to the last rhino census conducted in 2018.

The initiative will be of tremendous help in curbing rhino poaching in the park, the officials said.

Kaziranga is perhaps the first in the country to get satellite phones for its forest personnel, they said. This facility is generally used by security and law enforcement agencies.

The Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) procured the satellite phones for the park at an estimated cost of Rs.16 lakh.

BSNL will be the service provider and the park authorities will bear the monthly expenses.

BSNL authorities have trained the forest personnel on how to operate the satellite phones in remote areas inside the forest where mobile phones do not function.

Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya thanked the chief minister for his prompt initiative in equipping the forest personnel with satellite phones.

The satellite phones will be immensely useful for coordination and will help in removing the communication bottlenecks inside the sprawling park , he said.

The satellite phones will give an edge to the forest personnel over the poachers and also during emergencies like a flood, Suklabaidya added.

The decision to arm the forest personnel of the park with satellite phones was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at Kaziranga National Park on May 27.

Rhino poaching is still a threat in the protected areas of the state as poachers have killed 22 one-horned rhinos in Assam since 1917, the forest minister had informed the assembly recently.

Nine of the animals were killed in 2017, seven in 2018, three in 2019, two in 2020, and one in 2021 so far in the north-eastern state, the minister had said. PTI