Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Ministry of Environment and Forests Reviews Flood Situation in Kaziranga Tiger Reserve


The Ministry of Environment and Forests reviewed flood situation in Kaziranga Tiger Reserve of Assam.  The Kaziranga Tiger Reserve has an area of 1033 sq.km., which includes the Kaziranga National Park (859 sq.km.), Bura Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary (44 sq.km.) and Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary (70 sq.km.).  The reserve is located in Nagaon, Golaghat and Sonitpur District of Assam and is bounded by the Brahmaputra, and to the South of the Karbi Anglong Wildlife Sanctuary.  The National Highway 37 separates the reserve from the said Sanctuary.

            Being located in the Brahmaputra Flood Plains, the reserve is prone to annual floods.  However, the normal flood inundation is inherent and important aspect of the Kaziranga ecosystem to maintain the large number of water bodies (around 175) and the floral/faunal biodiversity of the area. 

            Dr. M. Firoz Ahmad, Member, NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) was asked to make a spot appraisal of Kaziranga in the wake of recent floods.  The wild animal deaths based on the said report are as below:

Species
Number of death
Total population
% death
Buffalo
1
-
-
Jackle
1
-
-
Elephant
2
1165
0.17
Hogbadger
2
-
-
Python
2
-
-
Porcupine
5
-
-
Swamp deer
10
1169
0.86
Sambar
15
-
-
Rhino
17
2290
0.74
Wild boar
28


Hog deer
512
40000
1.28
Total
595
-
-

            As per the report, most of the Rhino deaths were from the older age group, besides calves.  However, three of them have been poached.  The hog deer mortality, in particular has been reported very high (512).  The report has highlighted the need for relieving the corridor areas from human pressure and avoiding change in land use pattern. 

            The park management has deployed patrolling staff for the protection of wild animals along the highways by creating barriers alongwith 24x7 surveillance.  The staff of Karbi Anglong Sanctuary was also co-opted to strengthen protection in the area.  Besides to safeguard wild animals from drowning in floods, artificial mounds / bunds have also been created at various places.  Wild animals are also rescued through boats.  Under the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger, funding support is provided to the State for such protection initiatives.  During the last financial year, an amount of Rs. 4.27 crores of central assistance was released to Kaziranga under Project Tiger, this inter alia, includes creation of a large number of patrolling camps within the reserve, besides other protection measures.  An alternate alignment has been agreed upon for diverting / widening the NH-37. However, since the said highway is in use, the NHAI would be approached for providing flyovers at vantage points for the traffic. This would prevent road hits, while providing safe passage for wild animals from beneath. 

            Earlier, the State has been requested to declare the adjoining Karbi Anglong Wildlife Sanctuary as a Tiger Reserve to enable adequate protection with Project Tiger assistance.  This would be reiterated for expediting the same.  The Member Secretary, NTCA would be visiting the reserve alongwith his team for spot appraisal / review, to strengthen the efforts by assisting the State.  During normal floods, which are recurring feature, there is less mortality of wild animals.  However, flash floods do occur due to breaches in the upper areas of Brahmaputra, which result in increased deaths of wild animals.  During 1998, a similar flood situation occurred in Kaziranga resulting a large number of wild animal deaths in the area.

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