Golaghat: Over 540 animals, including 13 rhinos, have perished in the world-famed Kaziranga National Park in Assam during the current wave of floods, perhaps the worst-ever to hit the Park in recent history.
Hog deer are the worst hit with 465 of them succumbing to the flood waters which have inundated nearly 80 per cent of the Park's area.
According to the latest official update, the other casualties include 10 swamp deer, 28 wild boars, five porcupine, 16 sambars and two each of python, wild buffalo and hog badgers.
The death toll was expected to rise further with the water level receding in the UNESCO World Heritage site and more carcasses are being recovered daily, Park Director Sanjib Bora said yesterday.
Speeding vehicles also claimed the lives of about 25 hog deer while two rhinos were killed by poachers.
The Golaghat district administration has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 Cr P C along NH-37, which passes through the Park and barricades have been set up at regular intervals to prevent speeding, Golaghat Deputy Commissioner Sanjiv Gohain Boruah said.
Time cards, restricting speed limit to 40 km per hour and time limit of 65 minutes to cross the corridor, has also been introduced to protect migrating animals who move to higher grounds in the neighbouring hill district of Karbi Anglong by crossing the corridor.
Forest guards, along with the people living in the fringe villages and NGOs, have so far rescued 126 hog deer, two rhino calves, two elephant calves and four barking deer and they are being treated at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), Bora said.
The devastating floods have caused extensive damage to roads, bridges and approaches to bridges though the actual extent of the damage was yet to be ascertained, he said.
The Park has been flooded since June 26 and within a couple of days nearly 80 per cent of the sanctuary was inundated with only the natural and artificial highlands spared where the animals fled for shelter.
The death toll among the hog deer was high primarily because they cannot survive in water and due to their small size they find it difficult to flee the flood water, wildlife experts said.