Swelling Brahmaputra sends animals running for cover in Assam | india | Hindustan Times
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Swelling Brahmaputra sends animals running for cover in Assam

GUWAHATI, India, June 17 (AFP) - Floods that have displaced 400,000 people in northeastern India have encroached a key refuge of the endangered one-horned rhinoceros, sending animals fleeing for higher ground, officials said Tuesday.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2003 13:07 IST

Floods that have displaced 400,000 people in Assam have encroached a key refuge of the endangered one-horned rhinoceros, sending animals fleeing for higher ground, officials said Tuesday.

The Brahmaputra river, swelled by monsoon rains, has flooded part of the 430 square-kilometer (165 square-mile) Kaziranga National Park, warden NK Vasu told AFP by telephone.

"We have already seen herds of elephants migrating from the park to the adjoining hills of Karbi Anglong for safety," he said.

The park, in Assam state some 220 kilometers (135 miles) east of the provincial capital Guwahati, is home to 1,600 one-horned rhinoceroses out of an estimated 2,300 left in the world.

Last year's floods drowned at least 70 animals in the park, including rhinos. While the current high waters look unlikely at this point to kill wildlife, they lead to other threats.

"Poachers have a tendency to target animals, taking advantage of the floods. We have already put forest guards on alert in the hills where animals take refuge," Vasu said.

Last year two of the rhinoceroses who fled the floods were killed by poachers. Vasu said restrictions had also been imposed on truckers at the national highway that crosses the park, as speeding vehicles have killed dozens of animals in the past, particularly deer.

Some 400,000 people have been displaced by the floods in nearly 450 villages in Assam. The Brahmaputra could rise further as more rain is anticipated, the meteorological centre in Guwahati said Tuesday.

First Published: Jun 18, 2003 12:25 IST