Kaziranga's wildlife suffer most as floods hit 2 million people in Assam

news
02 August 2016

The floods in Assam that affected 2 million people, have also swept away at least 13 of Kaziranga National Park's iconic rhinos and at least 166 hog deer, while many other animals are recovering in the government rescue and rehabilitation centre.

Kaziranga in Upper Assam is home to at least 2,400 of the one-horned Great Indian Rhinoceros, but 70 per cent of the 450 sq km arae of the wildlife park is threatened by massive flooding.

Most of the rhinos are 'calves' in the age group of three months to one year, said Suvasish Das, district forest officer in charge of the park.

The floods have affected nearly 2 million people in at least 23 districts across the state in Upper, North and Lower Assam even as two more deaths were reported today, taking the toll to 31. Reports said the situation remained critical in most parts of the state.

At Kaziranga, reports said, at least 10 rhinos were rescued and eight were admitted in the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), jointly run by Wildlife Trust of India and the Assam Forest Department. These rhinos are suffering of pneumonia, the reports said, adding, ''The condition of the calves is improving.''

The present damage, in terms of animals drowning in the fast-flowing waters carried by the Brahmaputra has, however, been less compared to the flood of 2012.

On the other hand, conservationists say some sort of flooding was ''absolutely necessary'' to have some level of flooding in Kaziranga for the forest to survive.

''In a way the flood is a blessing as fresh silt and alluvium deposits increase the productivity of the forest undergrowth,'' an official said.

The floods have also helped replenish some 400 water bodies in the park while washing away hyacinth and weeds, thus cleaning the water.

The Mobile Veterinary Service (MVS) of CWRC has handled 107 rescue cases in seven days, the WTI said. MVS teams released 62 hog deer out of 92 rescued. They also carried out, along with the AFD, three eastern swamp deer rescues. Two of the deer survived and were brought to the CWRC.

With more areas getting inundated in the park located on the south bank of the Brahmaputra, wild animals come out of it seeking higher ground across National Highway-37 towards the foothills of Karbi Anglong. The Kaziranga Forest Authority has introduced a 'Time Card' system to regulate the speed of vehicles on NH37 during the floods.

MVS units - three from CWRC and one from WTI and the Japan Tiger and Elephant Fund's Wildlife Rescue Centre at Diphu - are running round-the-clock rescue and wildlife crisis mitigation operations in the four forest ranges adjoining the highway.





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