Guwahati: The flood situation in Assam worsened on Monday with 95% of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) getting submerged under water. So far, 17 animal deaths have been reported from the protected area and its vicinity.
Flood waters have displaced hundreds of animals from their habitat. Some of them, who moved to higher grounds to avoid flood waters, were hit by vehicles while crossing the National Highway-37 that passes through the national park. Although speed restrictions have been put in place, reports of hit-and-run incidents continue to trickle in.
NH-37 starts from Sutarakandi near Karimganj in Assam and terminates at Bhali in Manipur. It bisects the corridor that links the park with higher grounds on the other side of the national park in Karbi Anglong district.
Considering the fact that flood season is a golden time for poachers looking to hunt wild animals, especially the world-famous one-horned rhino, the authorities concerned have already imposed Section 144 of the CrPC that prohibits the gathering of more than five persons in one place.
Meanwhile, a special protection force has also been raised to keep a check on rhino poaching and related activities in Kaziranga National Park. The force includes 74 men and 8 women that guard the vulnerable creatures at the park.
Speaking to EastMojo, Ruhini Ballab Saikia, DFO, Kaziranga National Park, said: “The flood situation in Kaziranga has been critical. About 95% of the area is under water and almost all the camps are submerged due to flood water. the water has also hit the highway in five different locations for which the movement of small vehicles has been restricted by the civil authorities.”
“As of now, we also have had a few casualties on the National Highway, that’s the Asian Highway – 1, and about 17 deaths have been reported out of which the majority are deer,” added Saikia.
As a preventive measure, ‘time cards’ have been provided to vehicles coming from both sides of the national park to provide utmost security to animals from being hunted. Forests guards have also been put on duty at night. The park authorities have also taken up a series of measures to mitigate flood impact.
The Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation has been involved in rescue and rehabilitation of the animals which are in danger. Forest officials have also been rescuing and providing medical aid to affected animals.
The Kaziranga National Park remains closed from May 1 till October 31 every year for visitors.