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HindustanTimes Wed,27 Aug 2014

Kaziranga may go under, animals’ lives at risk

HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times  Guwahati, July 08, 2013
First Published: 22:47 IST(8/7/2013) | Last Updated: 01:27 IST(9/7/2013)

Kaziranga National Park, home to one-third of the world’s one-horned rhinos is once again facing the danger of floods. Although the world heritage site is not flooded as of now, incessant rain in the last few days has resulted in most of the water bodies overflowing and the animals moving to higher reaches.

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This displacement makes animals an easy target for poachers. In 2012, a large number of rhinos and other wild animals were hunted down by poachers while on their way to Karbi Hills after crossing national highway-37. “The movement of animals has started,” said Rohit Chaudhary, a local conservationist.

Feroze Ahmed of Assam-based NGO Arayanak said as most of the area outside the park was not protected it leads to poaching. “We have not noticed huge movement of animals so far,” he said.

According to park director NK Vasu, providing protection to animals outside the park was not under their jurisdiction. “We are coordinating with the police and local authorities to ensure safe access to animals across the national highway,” he told HT, adding the authorities were better prepared to face any eventuality this time.

Local wildlife watchers claim there had been some flooding in the northern part of the park in the last few days even though Vasu claims the situation was normal. In the coming days, the situation can change dramatically as the water levels are rising in Dibrugarh town. Currently, the water level there is about 105 meters and Kaziranga gets flooded when the level crosses the 106-metre mark.

The authorities ,however,  seem to be better prepared than last year when about 573 animals died and thousands got displaced. “There are 150 camps inside the park which have been alerted. Each camp has been provided with a motor boat to rescue the animals,” Vasu said.


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