The success of the Kaziranga National Park in preserving rhinos and tigers has begotten more success — the development of a sister wildlife sanctuary. The idea is to take tourism pressure off Kaziranga.
For 101 years, the one-horned rhino had been Kaziranga’s superstar. The focus began shifting to a carnivore when it was made a Tiger Reserve in 2006, entailing stricter wildlife regulations. Last year’s animal census saw the rhino population rise to 2,200 (almost 60% of the world’s rhinoceros unicornis). But officials were more elated by the tiger estimate — the 860 square km Kaziranga recorded the striped cat’s density at 32 per 100 square km, the highest on earth.
The tiger count put pressure on the forest department to shift tourism activities from Kaziranga’s core area to provide “breathing space” to the animals. Officials were also asked to check “mushrooming” hotels around Kaziranga.
A major beneficiary of this shift of attention has been the 38 square km Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, 50 km east of Guwahati.
“Though Pobitora has been around for ages... It has really come up to be referred to as Kaziranga’s showroom, and more and more tourists are finding out why,” chief Assam wildlife warden Suresh Chand said.
Pobitora in essence is a microcosm of Kaziranga; the terrain, flora and the setting — kissing the southern bank of the river Brahmaputra — are the same. “Everything is almost the same, except the size,” , Chand said.