Kaziranga (Assam): Heavy rain in the last few days has resulted in flooding in Kaziranga National Park and animal displacement has begun. The Assam Forest Department and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) have responded by gearing up their flood management measures. Patrols, to prevent poaching of displaced animals and to monitor traffic speed on the highway to avert road accidents are in place, as are rescue and rehabilitation operations.
Expecting floods earlier, the Forest Department, WTI and IFAW had begun their preparations to manage wildlife emergencies, several months ago. SN Buragohain, Director, Kaziranga, said, “The water level is gradually rising inside the park, but we are well-prepared for emergencies.”
This morning, a juvenile wreathed hornbill was rescued by the Forest Department officials in Burapahar range. The hornbill was blown off its nest by a heavy downpour last night, causing a fracture in its right leg. It has been admitted to the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) for treatment.
Dr Phulmoni Gogoi, veterinarian, CWRC, said, “We were informed by the forest officials of the rescued hornbill. Our Central Assam unit of the Mobile Veterinary Service (MVS) collected the bird from the range office in Burapahar. We are providing it with necessary treatment and fruits for food.”
The CWRC and the MVS are joint ventures of the Forest Department, WTI and its partner, IFAW. In addition to the MVS in Central Assam, two more are in place in Upper and Lower Assam to tend to wildlife emergencies in the respective areas.
Earlier this year, CWRC was granted authority on rescue and rehabilitation of displaced wild animals from in and around Kaziranga NP. Buragohain, also the current project leader of CWRC, said, “We are streamlining all NGO activities through the CWRC for effective rescue and relief operations. Dr Prasanta Boro, CWRC veterinarian, has also been training locals on handling simple injuries in animals.”
Annual floods in Kaziranga NP displace hundreds of animals from its low-lying grasslands including the endangered greater one-horned rhinoceros, found in its highest numbers here. The inundation not only affects the animals directly, but also forces them to migrate to higher terrain, often outside the park. This migration makes animals vulnerable to poaching and road accidents among other threats.
Buragohain added, “The animals have started to move out of Kaziranga towards higher grounds, especially to the hills of Karbi-Anglong. We have intensified our patrolling. More staff have been brought in from other divisions for this purpose. Patrolling is also going on in Karbi-Anglong. The number of barricades along the highway has also been increased to prevent road accidents.”