Guwahati, Aug 17:
Flood waters from the Brahmaputra have entered Assam’s Kaziranga national park, inundating almost 80 percent of its 858 sq km area.
The park is famous for its one-horned rhinos. It is divided into five ranges — Kohora forest range, Bagori forest range, Agratoli forest range, Burha Pahar and the northern forest range.
“As of now, almost all the low-lying areas of the park are under water,” said park director M.K. Yadav.
“The annual flood is a welcome event every year as unwanted weeds are washed away. This is vital for the ecosystem of the park,” he said.
“It is a matter of worry only when there is high flood when some animals stray outside the park while searching for higher grounds.
“The water levels are stable as of now and it is expected to recede after three to four days,” he said.
The park authorities have strengthened security as poachers take advantage of the flood to kill animals, particularly one-horned rhinos.
“During the floods, the animals, particularly one-horned rhinos, stray outside the park. The rhinos and other animals normally go towards the Karbi Anglong Hills looking for higher grounds.
“It is very difficult to track these animals and it becomes easy for the poachers to kill the rhinos,” said another official.
“We have intensified patrolling and put everyone on high alert. Deployment of forest guards have also increased inside the park,” he said.
The authorities had earlier repaired the natural highlands and created artificial highlands in the park for the animals to take shelter during floods.
Restrictions have also been put on the speed of vehicles plying on National Highway 37 that bifurcates the park.
This is more important at at night when the animals in distress which try to cross the highway are hit by speeding vehicles.
“Those violating the speed limit are fined,” the official said.
The park witnessed severe high flooding in 2012 which killed about 600 animals including rhinos and elephants.