KAZIRANGA, July 7 - The ongoing wave of floods has affected a sizeable portion of Kaziranga National Park, inundating the grasslands and forcing wildlife to take shelter on the woodlands not yet submerged, and on the highlands, including the artificial ones constructed for the purpose.
While no flood-related wildlife fatality has been reported, five deer have died so far after they were hit by speeding vehicles on the NH-37 that passes through the national park.
Wild animals in large numbers crossing over to forested hills of Karbi Anglong beyond the NH-37 has been a regular phenomenon during the high floods in Kaziranga every year. Disturbingly, many animals meet with accidental deaths due to rash driving and the failure of the forest authorities and the administration to enforce speed restrictions along the vulnerable stretch from Jakhalabandha to Bokakhat used by wildlife to cross over.
�So far five deer have died in road accidents. We are trying to enforce the speed restrictions in coordination with police and the district administration. Leaflets are also being distributed to drivers on the highway on the dos and don�ts. In addition to the amount to be paid under the Motor Vehicle Act, a fine of Rs 5,000 has been charged as per National Green Tribunal (NGT) order dated May 17, 2017. We expect this to have a deterrent effect on speeding vehicles,� Chief Conservator of Forests and Director of Kaziranga National Park SN Singh told The Assam Tribune.
Singh added that flood preparedness was adequate and that all the staff had been trained to deal effectively with the situation. �As of now, floodwaters have affected 40 of the 178 forest camps but no need has arisen as yet to vacate the camps and all are being manned as usual by the guards,� he said.
Singh said that the main challenge was in monitoring the wildlife that cross over to the Karbi Anglong side. �We have stepped up vigilance and there have been round-the-clock monitoring. Four new speed boats have been added to our fleet for patrolling,� he added.
Poachers invariably target animals, especially rhinos, during flood-time, as the animals migrate in their hordes to the Karbi Anglong forests. As the nearby Karbi Anglong hills do not enjoy adequate protection mechanism, the straying animals often fall easy prey to poachers.