Mechanism to Mitigate Floods And Devastation in Rhino Heartland

While 26 districts in Assam are now reeling in the shadow of the first wave of the year, the famous Kaziranga National Park has yet to face the wrath.

Often considered the “primary curse” of the national park and its flora and fauna, floods have been a constant cause of concern for prized animals and park authorities.

The Forestry Department has devised a new flood mitigation mechanism to protect the rhinoceros, along with other animals in the World Heritage Park, from flooded waters.

The Assam Forest Department has built about 40 hikes to provide shelter for animals in Kaziranga National Park, Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) and other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the state due to the ongoing floods, State Minister for Environment and Forests Parimal Suklabaidya has reported.

These new heights are scientifically engineered with adequate grass and plants that produce fruits such as elephant apple and Indian gooseberry.

Kaziranga National Park
40 new scientifically designed heights have been created. (Photo: News18)

Kaziranga National Park, a World Heritage Site famous for its wildlife especially the rhinoceros rhinoceros, is losing hundreds of animals due to the annual floods caused by the heavy monsoons. In many cases, the animals are killed by speeding vehicles on National Highway 37 that splits the park in half as they try to cross to the other side, or by poachers finding that flooding is the most convenient opportunity to hunt down a distressed rhino. Twelve rhinos out of 151 animals in Kaziranga died due to floods in 2020 while 24 animals, including rhinos, were killed in floods in 2021.

Skelpedia said that the department is fully prepared to face the floods and possibilities this time.

He added, “We have successfully completed the construction of about 40 ridges to cope with the prevailing flood situations in Kaziranga and other national parks and wildlife reserves.”

The minister said forest officials are working around the clock in light of the flood situation and are working alongside officials in Kaziranga National Park to ensure the safety of the animals. “There are more than 25 boats ready to rescue animals in Kaziranga,” he said.

At present, there are a total of 144 man-made heights in the park. 33 of them were constructed in 2019 and 111 in 1990. However, they are not enough to house all the animals in the park during the annual floods, forcing them to venture out and take shelter in the neighboring Carpi Hills by crossing the National Highway. .

Unlike boar deer that cross to the other side, rhinos and buffaloes do not prefer to go out of the garden, therefore, providing them with shelter becomes important. Although heights are not a permanent solution, they are useful.

“We have built an 8.5 km elevated road to provide shelter for animals during floods and for patrolling,” said Jatin Sharma, Director of KNPTR.

In 2020, the center gave its approval to the Assam government’s proposal to build 32 km artificial heights within the park to shelter animals from the annual floods. It will start from the Kaziranga forest chain and extend up to the Biswanath forest chain in the park.

Annual floods are a necessary evil of the Kaziranga National Park ecosystem, which includes forests, wetlands, and grasslands. They drive out aquatic plants and other weeds that cause damage to the garden’s ecosystem.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma will visit the flood-hit Dima Hassau district on Thursday.

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