Guwahati: In flood-hit Assam, at least 13 rare rhinoceros have drowned in the last 10 days as 80 per cent of Kaziranga National Park, home to two-third of world's one-horned rhino population, is submerged under water. Among the dead rhinos are 8 calves, including four female calves.
- At least 13 rhinos have drowned in the last 10 days
- 80% of Kaziranga National Park is submerged under water
- Official fear safety of rhinos as they stray outside the park
NDTV reported from inside the park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the challenges faced by the administration as the flood water entered even inside the camps of forest guards. Four rhinos have also died due to old age in the last 10 days.
Wildlife conservationists are worried about the safety of the rhinos as many of them stray outside the park boundary in search of food. Nine rhinos have been rescued of which eight are undergoing treatment.
"Outside the park they are under threat from poachers and we have to be extra alert. There have been a lot of such cases. Inside the park they are safe as we are always patrolling and flood waters make it difficult for poachers too," Divisional Forest Officer of the Kaziranga National Park Suvashish Das told NDTV. This is the worst flood since 1998 at Kaziranga National Park.
The threat of poaching is high as each rhino horn fetches 80 lakh to one crore and can be easily sent out of the country through the Nagaland border.
"My government is committed to protect the one-horned rhino and wildlife not only in Kaziranga but in other wildlife parks. Our minister is there on the ground," Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal told NDTV.
People living near Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat district of Assam have lost their homes as the area is inundated. The only way to get inside the park, which is closed for visitors in monsoon, is by boats.
"We have lost everything. Our homes, our fields are under water and we are living on the road," said Shafiqul, a resident of Bagori.
With these families leaving the area, the rhinos have become more vulnerable to poaching.
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 dear.
Flood situation in Assam remained grim on Tuesday as the number of dead increased to 31. Over 11 lakh people in 21 districts have taken shelter in relief camps set up across the state.