"The Rhino Club" was the name of the recreation club of officials of Forest, Soil Conservation and Tourism Departments stationed at Kohora, a small village by the side of NH 37, about 126 miles away from Guwahati towards Jorhat. The club was founded in November, 1968 and next year it was converted into 'Wildlife Club' with the zeal and active participation of the local wildlife enthusiasts. The idea was to help in promotion and preservation of the wildlife in and around the Kaziranga National Park. Ideas and plans were rapidly modified and in April, 1969 the Club's nomenclature was changed to 'Wildlife Club' with greater interest. Dr. Robin Banerjee, a naturalist then staying at Naharjan Tea Estate visiting the National Park very often for photographing and filming on wildlife suggested that the club should be re-christened as 'Society'.
On 12.12.1969, in presence of forest officers-staff and a few local people met at Kohora and formed the Kaziranga Wildlife Societv. On1st January, 1970 the 1st executive committee was constituted with Dr. Robin Banerjee as President. Other elite members of the new organization were Mr. P. Lahan, IFS, DFO, Bokakhat, Mr. Prafulla Candra Sarmah, Tourist Information Officer, Kohora, Mr. S. Deb Roy, IFS, Mr. PC Sarmah, Mr. U P Gogoi and Mr. Rajen Sanowal, Range Officer, Kohora. Mr. K.L. Hatibaruah and Mr. Mackay, Manager of Nearby Hatikhuli Tea Garden took active part in the society's work.
Thus KWS could be termed as being the oldest NGO in the whole of Northeast India. The Society was duly registered and a formal constitution was drawn up.
The members also raised some voices and tried to bring awareness amongst the local people for preservation of the wild denizens of the National Park.
The Society aims at:
(a) Protection, preservation and promotion of wildlife and their habitat not only in Kaziranga National Park but in the entire NE India;
(b) Publication of periodicals, news bulletins, arrangement of film shows, study circles on wildlife;
(c) Creation of all possible facilities for members to carry on systematic study and research on wildlife, forestry and allied subjects;
The constitution framed then was modified from time to time and by10-7-05, it had 17 articles and published as "Memorandum of Association and Rules & Regulations" of the Society. Initially, the Society enrolled 60 life members of which 15 were from foreign countries. The Society started functioning from its own building built with the money collected from member fees and donations etc. -- ('The Society gratefully acknowledged the gift of printed copies of its constitution and writing pads from M/s Assam Printing Works (P) Ltd., Jorhat. The original donation of Rs. 2500.00 from Dr. Robin Banerjee and Rs. 500.00 from Dr. S. Doss of Jorhat were of great help.
The Soceity’s present member strength are as follows:
i) Life member 507
ii) Overseas member 21
iii) Institutional member 4
iv) Student member 56
v) honorary member 7
Total 595 Nos.
Activities of KWS
In 1969-70, the Kaziranga Wildlife Society was born and its "Articles of Memorandum" had been framed and the Society was duly registered (Regd. No. 116 of 1969-70). Prior to this, the society approached Mr. Machey, Manager, Hatikhuli T.E. (another member of the society) for a plot of land from ceiling surplus areas of the garden which he gladly accorded and spared 2 bighas of land. (The Society could manage to get formal allotment for only one bigha of land from the Revenue Department, Govt of Assam in 2005).
The enthusiastic founder members, especially Dr. Robin Banerjee, Sri S. Deb Roy, Sri U.P. Gogoi and Sri P.C. Sarma took active part in construction of the Society's office at Kohora and helped with men and material to get a one roomed Assam type hall completed by the winter of 1970. .
In the third Annual General Meeting of the Society Mr P. Lahon took over as secretary of the Society. During his tenure two rooms of the society building were extended where we could accommodate students from different educational institutions visiting Kaziranga.
In the mean time, the Society collected the cost of 6 rifles and donated it to the Department of Forests for patrolling and fighting against poachers in KNP to help in protection.
In 1971 two elephants were also donated to KNP by the Director, Zoological Society, Dresden, East Germany through our Society.
While Dr. Banerjee continued as President of the Society, Jagadish Phukan and Sri K.L. Hatibaruah were Vice Presidents and Sri Premadhar Neog and Sri Rajen Sonowal were elected secretary and treasurer respectively in its 4th General Meeting.
The Society members also assisted from time to time in wildlife census held in the National Park and led excursion parties and explained to them the need of love and protection of wildlife and caused awareness against poachers and illegal catching of fishes. The Forest Deptt. made some proposals for extension of the sanctuary in some areas continuous to KNP to accommodate the growing population of wildlife and for maintenance of a buffer zone of the park by keeping them free from human and house cattle population. The society took active part in approaching the Govt. authorities and creating public opinion as well for the said proposals.
Some beautiful cards with creative arts by our member late Manoj Kr. Dutta of Guwahati and Sri Sadullah were prepared and sold for earning revenue.
The Society also took initiative in inviting the renowned ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali of Bombay Natural History Society to Jattinga near Haflong for study of avian behavior and to delve deeper on the mystery of Jatinga. Our members accompanied Dr. Salim Ali and felicitated at him on his arrival at Kohora. He was also accorded warm welcome in a public meeting held at Rabindra Bhawan, Guwahati.
The city office of the• society was established at Jagaron Building, Silpukhuri, Guwahati, in 1992.
In the meantime, two more rooms were added to our office at Kohora under DRDA grant to be used by visitors. The last addition to the building complex - a cottage and a dormitory were completed before centenary festival of Kaziranga in 2004. The Research Centre building came up with the financial assistance under MP's Local Area Development Fund provided by Sri Indramoni Bora, MP (L.S.) amounting Rs. 5 lakhs. The same was inaugurated on 13.08.2006 by Sri Utpal Miri S/o Late Mohi Chandra Miri and was named as Mahi Chandra Miri Research Centre.
The city office which was in 'Jagaron' building had been shifted to Govt. Press Road, Bamunimaidam in a room provided by Sri S. Rahman, a life member.
The Society has been publishing an annual magazine named "THE RHINO" being the Society's mouthpiece with brilliant articles from eminent writers. It was first published during 1971-72 (Editors:R N Choudhury & Prosenjit Douarah).
The Society has some calendar events and we try to plan out these events/programmes involving students so that those become more result-oriented. We are really happy that students and educational institutions have become partners in our awareness campaigns for conservation of flora and fauna.
World Wetlands Day on February 2, Kaziranga Wildlife Society in collaboration with the Departments of different College/institutions to highlight on the wetland related issues. Students and other members of the organizing bodies actively participate in the deliberations.
Conservation education is vital to wildlife protection and the KWS puts the onus on the younger generation. So important events like World Wildlife Day are celebrated with students under 15 and this helps to motivate the young generation to become responsible stakeholders for the conservation of nature and wildlife.
KWS organizes programmes on the occasion of World Sparrow Day on March 20 and World Water Day on March 22.
The Society observes Earth Day on April 22 with interaction sessions with the students on different aspects of conservation and plant saplings on the occasion.
Another calendar event of the Society, World Environment Day is celebrated with students and plantation programmes.
KWS has been celebrating Nature Conservation Day to commemorate the birthday of its founder president Padmashree Robin Banerjee on August 12. Noted conservationists, authors are invited to deliver the “Padmashree Robin Banerjee Memorial Lecture” on the topics concerning important conservation issues.
The coveted Lifetime Achievement Award of Kaziranga Wildlife Society is also presented on the occasion to people working in grassroots for their contribution to conservation of nature.
Celebration of Foundation Day on December 12. To commemorate the Day, bird watching camps have been organized among students.
The KWS initiated the system of issuing time cards in KNP to minimize wildlife casualties during the time of flood on the NH 37.
The KWS took initiative in supporting wildlife in distress from time to time and more recently, the rhino calves at the CWRC, orphaned by devastating flood.
The KWS has kept with its tradition of community service in and around Kaziranga National Park, offers help like boxes for bee keeping to fringe community, trophies as awards for sports and other competitions.
The KWS also asked the forest department to implement its decision to set up wildlife police stations, step up investigation and prosecution process, sensitize the eco-development societies and involve NGOs to counter rhino poaching. The Society asked the government to re-instate the intelligence cell in Kaziranga and also to install a toll-free helpline so that people can share information with the forest staff and police to prevent rhino poaching. KWS also demanded that political parties declare a green agenda for protection and preservation of the forests and rich wildlife in the state.
Further, the Society has embarked on an awareness drive in a bid to minimize man-elephant conflict in the greater Numaligarh area. Our teams hold interaction programmes with villagers of affected villages in dealing with wildlife share ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s with the affected community that could be of help to minimize conflict.
Quiz, extempore speech are also held on nature and environment.
Kaziranga Wildlife Society organizes medical camps/veterinary camps in the aftermath of floods in villages—in the vicinity of the Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks.
The KWS has also started a campaign for a pollution free Diwali in the recent years.