Assam floods wreak havoc on wildlife in state; 17 rhinos, 166 hog deer among 218 animal causalities
Assam's hog deers and endangered rhinos are becoming the biggest victim of the devastating flood in the state, with 17 rhinos and 166 hog deer reported to have drowned to death in the calamity so far.
According to a report in the Indian Express, Kaziranga National Park (KNP), which is still 80 per cent under water, has been robbed of as many as 218 animals, 17 of them being rhinos and over 166 hog deer by the floods in a span of just seven days.
Most of the rhinos are ‘calves’ in the age group of three months to one year, according to Suvasish Das, District Forest Officer in charge of the Kaziranga park.
Das said apart from the rhinos and hog deer, the Park lost 11 wild boar, nine swamp deer, six sambar, three buffalo, two hog badger, one porcupine and one python too. “All these we lost in just seven days, between July 25 and 31,” Das told the daily.
Kaziranga National Park is home to 35 species of mammals and has 2400 one-horned rhinoceros, 20,000 hog deer, 100 tigers, 1000 elephants, 1500 wild buffaloes, 1000 swarm deer, but they are threatened by massive flooding in 70 per cent of the 450 sq. km. core area of the park.
Over 100 animals rescued by forest guards, NGOs and local people, 18 including eight rhinos are currently undergoing treatment at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), the country’s only wildlife field hospital located in Kaziranga.
Meanwhile, nine rhino calves separated from their mothers due to the floods have been rescued and being looked after at the Centre of Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation at Panbari near KNP, said CWRC Director Rathin Barman.
In view of hog deer being killed by speeding vehicles when they cross NH-37 towards the highlands of Karbi Anglong district, KNP authority has been issuing time cards to control movement of traffic by the side of the park.
There are 16 animal corridors on the NH-37 through which various types of animals from the park cross over to Karbi Anglong hill during floods, officials said.
The rising water level of the mighty Brahmaputra river has brought 85 per cent of KNP area under flood, submerging 117 of the 120 forest camps there and snapping road connectivity.
Country boats are the only means of communication for the KNP guards and others, the officials said.
Patrolling by security forces on elephant back in the rhino habitat has been intensified with 14 elephants pressed into service for checking poaching, they added.
Meanwhile, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) has demanded the union forest and environment ministry take needful steps to protect the forest wealth - both flora and fauna - in the "unprecedented situation".