Guwahati: Even before it could recover from last month’s floods, the Kaziranga National Park has once again been hit, with more than 85% of the protected area going under water following heavy rainfall in the last 24 hours. In fact, officials claim this could be the worst flooding in nearly three decades.
Water from the Brahmaputra river rushed into the area, triggering large-scale migration of animals from the park to the highlands in neighbouring Karbi Anglong district. Park officials said at many places the water level has crossed six feet. Many of the anti-poaching camps have also been submerged.
“In fact, Sunday’s flood is one of the worst deluges Kaziranga has experienced since 1988. The situation is very grim after large swathes of the park went under water. We don’t know yet how many animals perished in the flood. We will only be able to know after the water level recedes,” Kaziranga divisional forest officer, Rohini Ballav Saikia, said, adding that 148 of the 188 permanent and makeshift anti-poaching camps have been submerged.
At least 107 animals, including seven rhinos, died in last month’s flood. Among them about 13 were killed when they were hit by vehicles while they were crossing the highway, trying to flee the flooded Kaziranga.
Saikia said additional forest and police officials have been deployed along the border areas of Karbi Anglong district where the animals from Kaziranga have taken shelter. Last month over hundred additional forest and police officials were deployed in areas surrounding Kaziranga. During floods, animals from Kaziranga move to the highlands in Karbi Anglong on the southern side of the park by crossing National Highway-37.
On Sunday, large portions of the highway too were flooded following a breach in an embankment in Jakhalabandha area of Nagaon district.
“Our personnel are keeping a close watch on the movement of animals so that they do not fall prey to poachers. Four rhino calves have been rescued so far,” Saikia said. Located on the floodplains of Brahmaputra, Kaziranga has to bear the brunt of the monsoon every year.
In fact, Kaziranga’s ecosystem is intrinsically dependent on the annual deluge. In last month’s flood, Kaziranga, home to a large population of rhinos, elephants, tigers, wild buffalos and eastern swamp deer, suffered an infrastructure damage of around Rs 7.35 crore. Roads used for patrolling as well as for tourists, 130 camps and several bridges in the park were damaged in the flood.