Kaziranga National Park a world heritage which is located in the heart of Assam, and one of the last areas in eastern India undisturbed by a human presence. It is populated by the world’s biggest population of one-horned rhinoceros, as well as many mammals including Bengal tigers, elephants, panthers and bears, and thousands of birds with exceptional Universal Value.
Kaziranga National Park is one of the last unmodified natural areas in India’s north-east region. Covering 42,996 hectares and situated in Assam State, it is the single biggest undisturbed and representative region in the Brahmaputra Valley floodplain. The Brahmaputra River fluctuations lead in dramatic examples of riverine and fluvial procedures in this vast region of moist alluvial tall grassland interspersed with countless wide shallow pools fringed with reeds and patches of deciduous to semi-evergreen forests. Kaziranga is considered one of the world’s best wildlife refuges.
A remarkable conservation accomplishment is the contribution of the park to saving the Indian one-horned rhinoceros from the brink of extinction at the turn of the 20th century to harboring this species ‘ single biggest population. The estate also harbors important populations of other endangered species including tigers, elephants, wild water buffalo and bears, as well as aquatic species including the dolphin from the Ganges River. For migratory birds, it is an significant region. It is populated by the biggest single-horned rhinoceros population in the world, as well as by many mammals including Bengal tigers, elephants, panthers and bears, and thousands of birds with exceptional Universal Value.
Kaziranga was registered as the main stronghold of the Indian one-horned rhino in the world, having the biggest single population of this species, estimated at over 2,000 animals at present. The estate also houses a number of worldwide endangered species including tiger, Asian elephant, wild water buffalo, gaur, eastern swamp deer, sambar deer, hog deer, capped langur, hoolock gibbon and sloth bear. The park has registered one of the country’s largest tiger densities and since 2007 has been proclaimed a Tiger Reserve.
The place of the park at the intersection of the Australasia and Indo-Asian flyway implies that the wetlands of the park play a vital part in preserving migratory bird species that are worldwide endangered. Also discovered in some of the closed oxbow lakes is the Endangered Ganges dolphin.
Kaziranga’s perimeter on three sides is adjacent to human settlements, resulting in difficulties to protect the site from illegal poacher and herdsmen incursions. Rhino poaching has been a severe issue, but there is a constant or increasing general population level. Another problem is seasonal flooding that leads many animals to migrate outside the park where they are vulnerable to crop harm hunting and reprisal. The presence of busy national highway No. 37 along Kaziranga’s southern border has led to enhanced settlements in this landscape that are disturbing wildlife movements. While river migration also resulted in the loss of some 5,000 hectares of forest land between 1925 and 1986, the national park was expanded to include part of the Brahmaputra River to the north.
Over the previous week, as floods hit Kaziranga, overflowing 90% of its landmass, animals are scrambling for a dry soil patch. They swim for miles through swirling floodwaters — and sometimes drown out of pure exhaustion — and in a crazy dash they clamber up mountains and mountains to survive.
Twelve one-horned rhinoceros, including the one in Haldibari, have died so far, according to information available with the KAZIRANGA Directorate. While 11 of them drowned, after slipping from neighboring Karbi Anglong, the twelfth, attempting to flee from the floodplains, dropped to his death. The forest department struggled between two rocks for five hours to pull the rhino out, but the task failed. However, they succeeded in sending a younger rhino with two trained elephants and their mahouts to a secure area.
To date, the forest department has saved two rhinos that are being observed in its center for rehabilitation and conservation. Even as 200 plus died in the floods, 60 plus animals, including elephants, hog deer and wild boars, were saved. The foresters bind the knees and cover the eyes of the rescuing livestock to minimize the amount of distress. Take the Rhino through its horns for three successive days, Kaziranga Foresters are either rescuing or prodding wildlife on a safer route.
A three-year-old rhino swam several miles through floodwaters to reach the highway in one such event at Sildubi in the Bagori range on Wednesday. The foresters and the neighboring villagers tracked their motion for 17 hours and stopped it from entering human settlement, thereby preventing a potential shock and threat to human lives and property.
Animals are attempting to cross the busy road and reach the neighboring Karbi hills to escape the flooded Kaziranga. But some of them lost their life as they crossed the highway in traffic accidents. Increasing concentrations of floodwater in the state posed a danger to wild animals in Kaziranga, which was completely under water due to continuous rainfall in the region. A “big amount” of rhinos, deers and elephants in the sanctuary are “trapped” because of the floods.
Although most of the animals that died last week had drowned, some of them were struck by automobiles as they attempted to cross the highway to safety. After all, the KAZIRANGA passes 49 kilometers of NH 37— which carries up to 6,000 cars a day. During floods, cattle migrate south to the Karbi Anglong mountains from the Brahmaputra Valley, crossing the highway dangerously.
Floods in Kaziranga affect its 35 mammal species as well as many types of snakes, turtles, lizards and insects. It is also the time when poachers prowl – in the chaos wreaked by the natural disaster, they try to collect the horns of dead rhinos. The danger during the floods is that if the poachers come to know about the death of a rhino ahead of the forest department, there is a fair chance that the horn would fall into the wrong hands.
Sources : Indiatimes, IndiaToday, Unesco