Rhino!! Ask any Assamese what is the significance of this animal in their home state. Almost everybody of us would claim it to be their state animal and boast about the fact that the natural habitat one horned rhino is confined only to Assam and nowhere else in the world. Though the two horned species can be found in Africa, but the rare one horned Rhino is restricted only to Assam. .
Thus, we have our special buses named after it. Mementos made in the shape of it to present to dignitaries on special occasion. Any special event, the mascot will always be a rhino. On a shorter note, Rhino is the state symbol of Assam and the Government considers it as the State Animal.
But is the significance of the state animal only confined to these materialistic things? Is Rhino only a animal to be proud of? I mean we are no behind it highlighting the importance of Rhino in our life or projecting it as the state symbol. Anything that creeps up about the animal, relates it to our hearts. It’s the pride of the state. But on paper whatever we say about the animal, do it relate to any of our concerned activities related to the animal.
In a way, after Tea and illegal Bangladeshis, I assume Assam is known for Rhinos all over the world. So doesn’t it call for a better habitat and status of the animal in real? I mean, we go on shouting about the significance of the animal all around, which naturally makes us responsible for the safety and caretaking of the animal in its natural habitat, which we all know is the Kaziranga National Park.
But the ground level truth is that, we the people are in actual not at all concerned about the animal. We never took the pain to learn the condition of the animal in its natural habitat. Whenever reports appear about rhino poaching and loss of its habitat, we start with blame game with the authorities and ultimately end up cursing the forest department and park authorities. Even today I haven’t seen any organized mass movement to protect this rare species, which is claimed to be the pride of Assam. We can curse, we can debate and there it ends all for some months. The common people relates themselves to the animal as their state symbol, but never ever they were actually concerned or bothered to do something to save this rare species from extinction. We only rely on the authorities to take action; never ever the common man was actually concerned with plight of the animal. And this has perhaps given the poachers and other unwanted elements enough of scope to exploit this majestic animal.
So why are proud of the fact that Assam is the only natural one horned rhino habitat in the world if we are actually not at all concerned about the Animal. Only a handful people are active in the campaign for the protection of this one horned species, but the shame is that even the majority of this bunch are not actually Assamese. People and wildlife activists from outside the state are far more active than the indigenous resident of the state.
After the molestation and riots, Assam has made to headlines of the National media yet again because of its rhino killings, rather poaching, and it’s a shame that people are taking it as a political debate and running a blame game on each other rather than thinking of some measures to stop it. Even the regional media has been a failure in this respect as they have put in discussions only to debate about the political aspect of the killings, and have done nothing to mobilize a mass movement in support of the animal, for its protection and preservation of habitat.
National channels have launched campaigns for the protection of the national animal Tiger, which has been a remarkable success. And with the celebrities joining in, it was successful in creating a great impact amongst the general public. People in general have joined the campaign and proved it to be grand success. Similarly, the Save Lions project in Gujarat was a success after the local residents joined in. Media has played an important role in both instances. So, what I am advocating here is that, a need for such a movement is seriously called for with respect to the Rhino. We need people to stand up on our own, rather than waiting for the Government, which has been a total failure.
Off late, certain public movement are initiated across various parts of the state, but all of them needs to be channelized together to create a larger impact. It is we the people who have to step forward. Mere claiming it to be our state symbol and national pride won’t do any good. But rising for the cause would surely make our claim more legitimate. The media houses, first the local, have to play a catalyzing role here, and gain public support to the campaign. It’s high time now; we need to act before its way too late.