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Killing for Conservation

India is that rare thing in animal conservation: a success story. Nowhere exemplifies that success more than Kaziranga National Park. But for many, the gains have come at a cost.


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Rhinos are one of the world's most endangered species. But how far

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should we go to protect them? We are inside India's greatest national

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park. We are going to discover its dark secret. When we see any people

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at night-time, we ordered to question them. Authorities are

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evicting villagers. There is no jury, no judge, no questioning. It

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is alleged that there has been killing, maiming and torture. There

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is no question that rhinos should be protected, but at what cost? This is

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the inside story of the Indian National Park, and those killed in

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the name of conservation. This is one of the greatest wildlife

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reserves on earth. The home to two thirds of the world's population of

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Indian rhinos. Have a look at this. What a magnificent animal. They

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looked just incredible, don't they? They look like tanks with those

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great folds of grey skin like armour plating. But actually, they are much

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more vulnerable than they look. The park is a huge attraction for

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tourists and wildlife enthusiast. David Attenborough's team came here

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for a documentary. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited last

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year on their first tour of India. This is an incredible story of

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conservation success. There were only a handful of rhinos left when

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the park was set up a century ago. Now, there are more than 2400. But

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Kaziranga's success has a dark side. This is the story they don't tell

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you on the glossy wildlife documentaries, and tourists like

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William and Kate never hear about. So, what is Kaziranga's untold

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secret? Tourists have gone, the park is closed and I have been invited on

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a night patrol. Walk in the forest in the dark is a dangerous business.

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What are you looking for? Some animals might be sitting here, they

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might attack us. There is a rhino just next to a! Here's looking at

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us. The park is huge, more than 400 kilometres square, and there are

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around 1200 park gods. It looks like this fellow had been in a scrap with

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another rhino. Luckily, he was in no mood to charge us. -- guard. The

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cards are here to protect him from the most vicious predator there is,

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man. -- guards. And for that, they have been given extraordinary

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powers. When you see poachers or hunters, you start hunting them.

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Issued them? Yes. And you have orders to do that? Yes. We are

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allowed to shoot them, whenever you see there are poachers or people

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doing night things, we are ordered to shoot them. This man has shot

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suspected poachers twice in his four years as a guard, but has never

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killed anyone. He knows there are unlikely to be any consequences if

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he did. Lawyers say the power and he has a similar to those given to

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armed forces policing armrest. We used to sit here all night. --

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unrest. The park says these powers are essential to fight poaching. But

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the discretion to shoot and kill is a huge responsibility that could so

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easily be abused. When I meet the director of the park, he gives me

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the official line on what critics call the park's shoot on sight

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policy. Is, we have to question who they are, to certify them. Then we

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can shoot them. First we must understand who they are. Who the

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others are in the game -- first. -- gang. How many people have been

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killed in the last five years? I have the figures of how many

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poachers have been killed. 2000- 2014, 22 poachers were killed. 50

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people killed in the last three years, that is quite a lot? These

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are the people doing the poaching. Thinking about the price of rider of

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porn... We have a lot of problems. Around 300 plus suspected poachers

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live here. Kaziranga is the only park in India which uses these

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powers. But there are plans to roll them out elsewhere. That was really

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interesting. What surprises me is just how many people have been

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killed in the park. 50 people in the last three years. That seems like a

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lot of people. In the communities around the park, the rising death

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toll has become a major issue. Kaziranga is, like the rest of

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India, densely populated. This is one of many tribal communities that

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have lived in all close to the forest for centuries. They say

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increasing numbers of innocent villagers are being shot -- or. Look

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at this, this is the village road. Just over here is the national park

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full of all those wild animals. There are no fences, no signs, and

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if I was to step across and into it, there is a real danger that I could

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be shot. These parents believe their son mistakenly crossed into the park

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in 2013. He had been looking after the family's two towers. His father

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believed that cows straight into the park, and his son, who had severe

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learning difficulties, went in to try and find them.

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TRANSLATION: My son was shot in the chest by park Rangers. They also

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slashed his arm. I don't know whether they used an axle something

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else. Kaziranga told the BBC that guards shot the man when he did not

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respond to a warning. He could barely do up his own trousers or his

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shoes. Everyone in the area knew him because he was so disabled. I have

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not filed a court case. I am a poor man. I can't afford to take them on.

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I don't know anything about how the law works. What can I do? The park

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is under huge pressure to crack down on poaching. With 170,000 visitors,

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Kaziranga is by far the biggest tourist attraction in this province.

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These economic benefits make poaching a major political issue. In

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2013, when the number of rhinos killed doubled to 27, politicians

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demanded action. The head of the park was happy to oblige. Delicious,

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authentic cooking. I have just been reading a report Britain by the

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former director of the park. It talks about his philosophy and how

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the park should be run. He says any suspect must obey all be killed, he

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says there must be no unauthorised entry whatsoever. Killed the

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unwonted, he says. There is a section where he talks about the

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justice system. He says environmental crimes, including

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poaching, are far more serious than murder. The then Chief put his

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uncompromising dock in into practice. The number of people

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killed started to wires. 22 in 2014, 23 the following year. -- doctrine.

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At the park battled against poaching with intensity, there were further

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casualties. A deep rushes into the local hospital. Inside is a badly

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boy. This seven-year-old has been shot in the leg.

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I am going to die, he cries. Don't worry, you will not die, it is

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mother says. TRANSLATION: I was just coming back

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from the shop. The forest guards were shouting Rhinoceros,

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Rhinoceros. Then they suddenly shot me. The path to the shop runs

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alongside the national park. TRANSLATION: One got to him, he was

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crying. I rush to him. He was lying in a pool of blood. What is the

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condition of the wound now? TRANSLATION: They grafted into here,

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that has not worked well. Just look at it. He has changed. He is to be

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cheerful, but he is not any more. He wakes up in pain in the night and

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cries for his mother. Six months on, and Akash Orang can still barely

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walk. Now his brother has to carry him to school. The park says it was

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a terrible mistake. It paid Akash Orang's medical expenses and $3000

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compensation. There was a huge outcry. Hundreds protested that the

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park does not do enough to control the guards. They say the deaths are

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often not investigated and victims are not identified. When people come

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in, the national park claims they are poachers, so they wash their

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hands on the DAX. They never looked back into it. This policy is

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dangerous, because it is creating an animosity. -- wash their hands of

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it. These guards are preparing an ambush in the park. They said it was

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too dangerous for us to join them. Lee Park explains the high death

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toll, said the poachers die in shootouts with guards. Firm figures

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are hard to come by, but according to the reports we can find, just one

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part guard has been killed by poachers in the last 20 years. This

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compared to the 106 people shot dead by guards over the same period. The

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park is being run with utmost brutality. Deezar "extrajudicial"

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executions. -- these are. People are being killed in these encounters,

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with no judge or jury. These are not just poachers, but also local,

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tribal people, and the terrifying thing is that there are plans to

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roll out this shoot on sight policy across the whole of India. Three

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months on, and local people are protesting outside the park

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headquarters, yet again. This time, the allegation is torture. They

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bring the victim in a push cart. The victim was picked up in the park by

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guards and accused of smuggling boards for a poaching gang. He says

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the questioning was aggressive. Very aggressive. And with your hands tied

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here, and your legs tied here? TRANSLATION: They gave me an

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electric shock here on my knees and here on my elbows. And here on my

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groin, too. They kept on hitting me. I was tied up, so every time they

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hit me, I fell over. The officers are said people in torturing him. --

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the officer said. Then he will speak the truth. I kept on telling them

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that I was not a poacher, so they kept hitting me. He says that the

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ordeal lasted for three hours, until finally his interrogators became

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convinced they have the wrong man. Park officials called his village

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head man to pick him up. TRANSLATION: What the park it was

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unacceptable. They had no evidence he was a poacher. How can they

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justify torture? If they discover that he is involved in poaching, we

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would bring into the park. -- if we discovered. But what they did was

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outrageous. Kaziranga National Park says it did bring the man in for

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questioning, but categorically denies any harm came to him, adding

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it never uses a electric shock during interrogation. But again,

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local people are saying it is evidence their rights are being

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trampled by the park and say activists, some of the world's

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biggest wildlife charities, are turning a blind eye. For example,

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doubly WF describes itself as a close partner of the Assam Forest

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Department. They are - they have been providing equipment and Sun

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City Forest Department, and survivors have repeatedly asked them

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to speak out against the shoot on sight policy, which they have so far

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failed to do. -- Assam Forest Department. Instead, they have

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funded ambush training for Ghaz, and provided extra equipment, including

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nightvision goggles. But what would you use nightvision goggles for in

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anti-poaching? To monitor what is happening. And also to monitor if

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there is any people moving deep inside the park. It is quite likely

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those goggles have been used to target people who have subsequently

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been killed. I wonder how WWF feels about providing equipment to a park

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killing that many people. We have not come across any evidence that

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they have been used for spotting people. Would they report that two?

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The thing is, it nobody is comfortable with killing people.

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What is needed is ongoing protection. The poaching has to

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stop. The illegal trade has to stop? Yet, it needs to stop. But shouldn't

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WWF speak out? Because obviously this is funded by individual

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donation. What you think of donors would feel about WWF's involvement

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with a park which is involved with killing dozens and dozens of people,

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maiming people, and other allegations of torturing people? As

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they say, we are working towards it. We want the poaching to stop. The

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idea is to reduce it. It is not just Kaziranga, but also the enforcement

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agencies. I think the main thing is to work with them. And the bad news

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is it is not just the anti-poaching asset that threatens local people.

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You can see tigers in Kaziranga, but they are extremely elusive. We

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travelled to Rajasthan. They think they have seen a tiger down by the

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lake, here. We are going to try and find it, now. Hold on tight! Go, go,

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go! . ! That is a brilliant site. A

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brilliant view of a tiger. You can still see it. God, that was

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amazing. What a majestic animal. And it is utterly unconcerned about us.

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100 years ago, there were about 100,000 tigers in the world. Now,

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there are less than 4000. But the good news is, numbers are rising.

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And success has brought new challenges. Big wild animals like

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tigers and rhinos need lots of space. To accommodate them, India is

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planning a massive expansion of its network of national parks. It is

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great news for conservation, but the plans involve more than 200,000

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people being moved from their homes. And once again, Kaziranga is on the

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frontline. The park wants to double in size, and an eviction order has

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been issued. The problem is, the villagers do not want to move. The

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first elections happened in September. The police move in to

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clear the crowd. Seems like this could be repeated across India as

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part attempt to follow Kaziranga's example and expand. The crowd starts

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throwing stones. The police response first with teargas, then with live

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rounds. Two people were killed. TRANSLATION: I have no one. My

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husband was the only person I had. I wanted to take his body, but they

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beat me up, and would not allow me to take his body, so I had to leave

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it. Then they brought in diggers to destroy buildings. And the national

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park provided a team of elephants that slowly and deliberately went

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through the village, knocking down every home. This is all that is

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left. India's wildlife reserves are sanctuary is for its most revered

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species. -- -- sanctuaries. But it is in danger

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of testing the fate of local communities. We requested interviews

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from India's Environment Minister, the Minister of the environment for

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Assam, the head of the body that runs India's national parks, the

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chief Forest Officer from Sam, and for another interview with the head

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of Kaziranga. None were available to speak to us. -- Killing for

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Conservation. We have heard how important it is to work with local

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communities. -- had of the Forest office in Assam. Of course,

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endangers Delic Endangered Species need conserving, but is Kaziranga's

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approach to conservation putting it above a welfare of the people that

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we have told our best placed to protect it.

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