GUWAHATI: Biswanath Wildlife Division officials, operating under Kaziranga National Park (KNP), strengthened their commitment to rhino conservation with a crucial training session on Friday. The training focused on the Rhino DNA Indexing System (RhoDIS India), a pivotal tool in the ongoing fight against rhino poaching.
The session saw participation from 25 forest officials of the division, along with five officers and veterinary experts from nearby state veterinary departments.
The training, conducted by two eminent WWF – India associates – Amit Sharma, National Lead for Rhino Conservation, and Dr Khanin Changmai, Associate Coordinator Animal Health from Brahmaputra Landscape – provided attendees with a deep dive into key conservation tools and techniques.
The curriculum included vital components such as foundational investigation procedures in line with standards set by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). Additionally, the attendees were acquainted with the nuances of “field sampling kits” tailored for gathering biological evidence such as DNA, mastering the chain of custody, and deploying the Crime Investigation Kit (CIK) effectively.
An integral part of the event was the presentation of a CIK to the division, aimed at further fortifying their anti-poaching operations.
The event’s inauguration was graced by Khagesh Pegu, the DFO of the Division under KNP. Highligting the potential impact of the training, Pegu said, “Armed with these sophisticated kits and newly acquired skills, now our investigative approach will be more streamlined.” He thanked the MoEFCC and all contributors to the RhoDIS India initiative.
The RhoDIS initiative was conceived by the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and the Indian adaptation was unveiled in 2014. This venture is a collaboration between WWF India and the Assam Forest Department through a series of workshops in Assam. The RhoDIS India laboratory in the Wildlife Institute of India, has till now analysed around 20 rhino crime cases nationwide. Their in-depth reports have been instrumental in shaping the legal trajectory of these cases.