Flood waters rise in Kaziranga

  • August 18, 2014

GUWAHATI: While floods have wreaked havoc in most parts of northeast India, they symbolize hope for Kaziranga National Park and the animals that live there. Floodwaters, which entered the park on Friday night, are vital for its ecosystem.

Forest minister Rockybul Hussain, who inspected the park on Saturday, said floodwaters have climbed up to 1.5-3 feet in the past 24 hours. “Floods are vital for the ecosystem. Ideally, floodwaters should go up to 6 feet, remain that way for 3 or 4 days and then recede.”

Several animals, mostly infants and the elderly, perish in the floods, but the waters also nourish the park’s ecosystem. “Floods are considered a curse in most places but in Kaziranga, they are essential. The annual floods wash away unwanted substances like animal dung and water-hyacinths and provide a new lease of life,” Hussain said.

To keep the animals, including Bengal tigers and one-horned rhino safe, there are several natural and artificial highlands inside the park but to move to higher ground, many animals have to cross the national highway which runs along the park.

“To prevent animals from being knocked down, we have clamped a 40 km/hr speed-limit on this stretch of the national highway,” Hussain said, adding, “We are giving time-cards to vehicles upon entry. These will be checked on exit and violators will be fined,” Hussain said.

“As per our suggestion, the PWD has begun preparing a detailed project report for a 25-km flyover along the 52-km stretch of the national highway which runs along the park. This will ensure vehicles do not impinge on animal-corridors across the highway,” Hussain said.

The water resources department are also working on an anti-erosion project plan. Hussain said the park has already lost 84 sq km to erosion.

The team supported by TigerTime in Kaziranga co-ordinate a flood crisis team not only to help monitor vehicles in the park to ensure that any animals crossing the highways to higher ground do so safely but also assist in any animal rescues.

“The floods create a natural cleansing process for the park and its animals but it’s vital that the team are on the ground to mitigate losses caused by speeding traffic or poachers taking advantage of the animals migrating from the parks protected areas,” says TigerTime campaign manager, Vicky Flynn. “Your donations help us fund these teams which in turn protect Kaziranga’s precious wildlife.”