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After flood damage and deaths, Kaziranga reopens ‘partially’ for tourists

Assam forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma says there was pressure from tour operators and the hospitality sector to reopen the park.

india Updated: Oct 02, 2017 13:04 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Kaziranaga National Park,Assam flood,One-horned rhinos
Rhinos and a deer at the flooded Kaziranga National Park in Nagaon district of Assam. (PTI File Photo )

After remaining closed for over four months due to floods, which led to deaths of hundreds of its inhabitants, the Kaziranga National Park in Assam reopened for tourists on Monday.

However, domestic and foreign tourists coming to the UNESCO declared world heritage site-- the largest habitat for endangered one-horned rhinos-- won’t be able to visit all parts of the park spread over 430 sq km.

“Roads in several parts of the park, which are used by tourists to go on jeep safaris, are yet to be repaired after damage caused by floods. Hence, we are allowing tourists to visit only certain areas till the repairs are completed,” Assam forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma told news persons at Kaziranga.

The minister stated that there was pressure from tour operators and the hospitality sector to reopen the park in the beginning of October, as there were lots of inquiries from tourists.

The park usually remains closed between May and September every year due to floods, which submerge large parts of the wildlife sanctuary forcing most animals to move to higher grounds outside the park for safety.

This year over 300 animals including 31 rhinos had died in floods. The national park is home to over 2,400 rhinos, which are also targeted by poachers for their prized horns.

While floods cause deaths and damage, the annual cycle is necessary to regenerate the grasslands essential for animals like rhinos, elephants and wild buffaloes, and fill up the 400 water bodies located inside the park.

“As repair works of roads are still continuing, jeep safaris will be allowed only in the Kohora and Bagori ranges of the park while elephant safaris will take place only at Kohora for the time being,” director of the park Satyendra Singh told journalists.

Besides deaths of rhinos due to floods, the national park was in the news last month after forest guards, who were attacked by an adult male rhino, fired at the animal in self-defence. The rhino died later.

First Published: Oct 02, 2017 13:03 IST