GUWAHATI, Sept 26 � The recent spate of floods in Kaziranga National Park has once again brought to the fore the urgent need for declaring the dense forests of Karbi Anglong as protected area.
For the thriving wildlife of Kaziranga, the Karbi Anglong are vital during the rainy season when a major part of the park remains under water. This season too, the hills have served as secure highlands for the animals which flocked there for shelter during the heavy floods.
Conservationists have long been advocating bringing the forests of Karbi Anglong under a single protective mechanism with Kaziranga for a better future of Kaziranga�s wildlife.
�Kaziranga�s ecosystem is highly dependent on preservation of forests in the Karbi Anglong hills along with the corridors that are crucial for the movement of animals, especially long-ranging animals like elephants,� Dr Bibhab Talukdar, secretary general of Aaranyak, says.
In the past, the forests of Karbi Anglong and the grasslands of Kaziranga formed a single contiguous ecological belt with very few human habitations. But the gradual opening up of the area on the southern side of the NH-37 resulted in expansion of settlements, tourist facilities and tea gardens � damaging the contiguity of the plains and the hills.
�It is highly imperative from the conservation point of view that the forested hills of Kaziranga are given the sanctity of a protected area,� Dr Talukdar says.
While bringing the Karbi Anglong hills under a single protective entity with Kaziranga might still be a time-consuming process, preventing further erosion of the existing critical animal corridors, such as Haldibari, Kanchanjuri and Panbari, is something that brooks no delay. Growing human pressure and commercial and industrial activities have already done much damage to the corridors and those could be lost unless immediate measures are initiated to check further degradation.
According to PJ Bora of WWF-India who has been associated with its Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Landscape Programme, foolproof protection to the existing corridors besides reclaiming the lost corridors to the extent possible through plantation is a must to ensure long-term well-being of Kaziranga�s famed wildlife.
�We are working with the local communities to create awareness on conservation and check further degradation of the animal corridors. Efforts are also on to restore some of the lost forest cover on the corridors through plantation,� Bora says.