Guwahati: The Assam Forest Department has built around 40 highlands for providing shelter to animals owing to the ongoing floods at the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) and other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of the state.

State forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya said on Wednesday that the forest department was fully geared up to tackle the ongoing flood situation and in a state of complete preparedness to rescue animals from the onslaught of the deluge in Kaziranga and other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

“We have successfully completed the construction of around 40 highlands for tackling the prevailing flood situation in Kaziranga and other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries,” he said, adding that the “highlands are designed scientifically with provision for adequate grass and fruit-yielding trees such as elephant apple and Indian gooseberry.”

“These highlands have enabled us to reduce animal casualty during annual floods,” he said.

The minister, who has been closely monitoring the flood situation in the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, said, “Kaziranga bears the brunt of floods every year, be it small or big. We are fully equipped to tackle any sort of exigency along with food arrangements for the officials and forest personnel deployed for rescue operations of animals in Kaziranga.”

The forest minister said that forest officials were working round the clock given the flood situation and are working in close tandem with officials of Kaziranga National Park for ensuring the safety of the animals.

“More than 25 boats are kept ready for the rescue of animals in Kaziranga,” he said.

Claiming that a slew of initiatives has been taken by his department to deal with the deluge in a better and more efficient manner, Suklabaidya revealed that a baby elephant was saved from drowning on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, KNPTR director, Jatin Sharma said the park has a total of 144 man-made highlands, including 33 big ones for housing animals during floods. 

“In addition to that, we have built an 8.5 km-long road-cum-highland for providing shelter to animals during floods and for patrolling,” he said.

Sharma said that KNPTR was fully prepared to meet any eventuality with country boats and speed boats being kept ready for deployment for the rescue of animals.

“Forest personnel are also on high alert. Besides, vaccination of cattle and camp elephants has been carried out near the periphery of the park in the last one and a half months to prevent the spread of diseases from domestic to wild animals,” he said.

Also read: Assam: Rs 2 lakh reward for catching unknown poacher

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