Guwahati: At a time when Assam has been struggling to keep its treasured one-horned rhino population intact, a man has taken the responsibility of spreading the message of rhino conservation upon himself. Julin Baruah, who has been spearheading the campaign, is now using cricket as a platform to draw global attention to the issue.
With some of the biggest cricketing stars descending on Guwahati, which is hosting India’s first match in ODI series against West Indies on Sunday, Baruah came dressed as a rhino and approached Rohit Sharma, India’s top-order batsman, to extend support towards the cause of rhinos. To his delight, Sharma has pledged his support and has also promised to visit Kaziranga National Park, a home to the endangered animal, in Assam.
Sharma was recently announced as WWF-India’s ‘rhino ambassador’.
Meanwhile, Baruah still awaits a go-ahead from the Assam Cricket Association (ACA) to be present on the cricketing pitch along with the cricketing stars on match day.
Speaking to EastMojo, Baruah said, “The one-horned rhinos of Assam are extremely endangered, and it is high time we take the necessary measures to save the pride of Assam.”
As part of his pan-India ‘save the rhino’ awareness campaign, Baruah has earlier met the former Indian cricket team captain, MS Dhoni for his support to the campaign. He has also been undertaking a bike rally across the Northeast to carry the message forward.
Talking about his campaign, Baruah said, “I have travelled to 28 states to campaign on the issue. This campaign is part of an international rhino conservation project.” He is also owns an NGO, Nature Care and Tourism Education Foundation, dedicated to the cause.
The one- horned rhino has for long been struggling with the menace of poaching to survive, with 74 rhinos being killed by poachers between 2015 and 2017, as per a reply given by former Assam forest minister, Pramila Rani Brahma, in the state assembly.
There are five surviving species of rhinoceros left in the world. Assam takes great pride in conserving the great Indian one-horned rhino as it is home to more than two-thirds of the wild population in the world. They are majorly found in Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Orang National Park, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, covering an area of around 1,100 sq km.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora & Fauna (CITES) has acknowledged the problem of poaching as a grave danger to the survival of the one-horned rhino.