Kaziranga conflict: rhinos and poachers, Assam, India

Conflict in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam after the government evicted people living in the vicinity of the park without any adequate rehabilitation.


The Kaziranga National Park is one of the oldest wildlife conservation reserves of India, first notified in 1905 and constituted as Reserve Forest in 1908 with an area of 228.825 Sq. Km. It was specially established for conservation of the Greater One Horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros Unicornis) whose number was estimated to be twenty pairs at that time. Kaziranga was declared a Game Sanctuary in 1916 and it was opened to visitors in 1938. It was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1950, and notified as Kaziranga National Park in 1974 under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, with an area of 429.93 Sq. Km. which has now extended to 899 Sq. Km. subsequently.

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Basic Data
NameKaziranga conflict: rhinos and poachers, Assam, India
SiteNagaon, Golaghat and Biswanath Chariali Districts
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific CommoditiesConservation of rhinos
Tourism services
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsKaziranga is a major source of revenue for the Assam government because domestic and international tourists visit the park every year. On November 3, 2017 when the park was opened, the revenue generated from the park was Rs 1.58 lakh on that day itself.

Kaziranga was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1950, and notified as Kaziranga National Park in 1974 under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, with an area of 429.93 Sq. Km. which has now extended to 899 Sq. Km. In 1985 it was declared a UNESCO Heritage site. It is home to two-third of the world's one-horned rhino population.
Project Area (in hectares)43,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected PopulationBetween 1500 to 3000 people
Start Date19/09/2016
Company Names or State EnterprisesThe Assam Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (ATDC) from India - No
Relevant government actorsAssam Environment and Forest department,

Assam tourism department,

Assam Tourism Development Corporation,

Assam Home department,

Assam finance department,
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersKrishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, a farmers group based in Assam.

The left political parties, CPI and CPM raised voice for the evicted people, Student Organisations,

The Opposition political parties in the Assam government, the Congress and the AIUDF protested these evictions.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage)
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths
Potential: Malnutrition, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Infectious diseases, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Development of AlternativesComing under pressure from the protesters and various civil society groups, the Assam government has offered to resettle and rehabilitate the evicted people who have land document.

On the issue of shooting of poachers, civil society groups like Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti ( a farmers body) have demanded an impartial investigation, monitored by the High Court into each incident of killing of the poachers.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The number of rhinos has increased but at the cost of repression against neighbouring populations.
Sources and Materials

Verdict of the Gauhati High Court related to PIL(suo motu) 66/2012, 67/2012, and WP(C) 648/2013 and 4860/2013, which directed eviction in Kaziranga
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Replies in the parliament on Kaziranga
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Riding the Rhino: Conservation, Conflicts, and Militarisation of Kaziranga National Park in Assam. Sanjay Barbora, Antipode, Volume 49, Issue 5, November 2017, p. 1145–1163 DOI: 10.1111/anti.12329
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Kaziranga eviction turns violent
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Assam has such a law, difference is rhino poachers carry firearms
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Guwahati HC Refuses to Intervene in Kaziranga Eviction
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Militants poaching rhinos in Kaziranga
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Media Links

News Broadcast on the Eviction Drive
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What the controversy over BBC documentary on Kaziranga reminds us about models of conservation
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Kaziranga: The park that shoots people to protect rhinos

By Justin Rowlatt. South Asia correspondent. 10 February 2017
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Other Documents

Rhino Poached Photo of a Rhino Poached at the Kaziranga National Park, and its horn taken away
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Eviction at Kaziranga Eviction being carried out at on September 19, 2016
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Meta Information
ContributorLand Conflict Watch, [email protected]
Last update29/12/2017