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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
Name of conflict:Kaziranga conflict: rhinos and poachers, Assam, India
State or province:Assam
Location of conflict:Nagaon, 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 commodities:Land
Tourism services
Conservation of rhinos
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Kaziranga 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.

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Project area:117,358
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:Between 1500 to 3000 people
Start of the conflict:19/09/2016
Company names or state enterprises:The Assam Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (ATDC) from India - No
Relevant government actors:Assam Environment and Forest department,
Assam tourism department,
Assam Tourism Development Corporation,
Assam Home department,
Assam finance department,
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)
International and Finance InstitutionsWWF from Switzerland
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Krishak 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.
Jeepal Krishak Shramik Sangathan (JKSS)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Coming 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The number of rhinos has increased but at the cost of repression against neighbouring populations.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

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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References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[10] Rhino Task Force, 2015
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Replies in the parliament on Kaziranga
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[click to view]

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
[click to view]

[1] BBC "Kaziranga: The park that shoots people."February 10, 2017. Author: Justin Rowlatt
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[2] Kaziranga eviction turns violent
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[3] The Wire. "As Kaziranga Expands, the Fate of Grazing Communities Hangs in the Balance" Author: Eleonora Fanari and Pranab Doley.
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[4] The Wire "Oil Exploring Survey Near Kaziranga Cancelled After Locals Chase Away Firm". 08 Dec. 2028. Author: Rajeev Bhattacharyya
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[5] ADB Embankment subproject in the Brahmaputra river of Kaziranga, Assam, india
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[6] The Wire "Assam: Activists Arrested Day After Complaining Against Theft of 800 Quintals of PDS Rice". April 08, 2020 Author: Gaurav Das
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[8] The Wire. "Upon Release, Jailed Activists Allege Being Targeted Over BBC Documentary on Kaziranga Excesses". May 6,2017. Shazia Nigar
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[9] The Ecologist. "Adivasi boy shot at by guards of ‘shoot-first’ Kaziranga national park" 22 July, 2016
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[11] Boycott Kaziranga National Park, by Survival International
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[12] The Quint "Elephant Dies at Ramdev’s Patanjali Project While Rescuing Her Kid". Author: Manon Verchot. Nov. 26, 2016
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[13] Axomiya Pratidin, Author: Dhruba Jyoti Saha, 9th June 2020
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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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Assam has such a law, difference is rhino poachers carry firearms
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Press Conference on the clampdown of farmers voices in the state of Assam.
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News Broadcast on the Eviction Drive
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Kaziranga: The park that shoots people to protect rhinos

By Justin Rowlatt. South Asia correspondent. 10 February 2017
[click to view]

What the controversy over BBC documentary on Kaziranga reminds us about models of conservation
[click to view]

Other comments:We are thankful for the information shared by Pranab Doley and Soneshwar Narah of Jeepal Krishak Shramik Sangathan (JKSS).
Meta information
Contributor:Land Conflict Watch, [email protected], Eleonora Fanari (ICTA).
Last update29/12/2017
Conflict ID:3058
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