Why Kaziranga National Park Cannot Survive Without Annual Floods Even As Animals Die

The sanctuary has already lost 116 animals to the high floods, including several rhinos.

In the past 10 years, Kaziranga has witnessed devastating floods almost every year

Guwahati:

Inside the Kaziranga National Park and tiger reserve, spread over a mammoth 1,055 square kilometre area, forest guards in country boats are braving the dangerously high flood waters to keep a watch on wild animals that inhabit this sanctuary and to keep the poachers away.

Stretched across the Brahmaputra floodplains, Kaziranga is home to tigers, elephants and the world's largest population of Indian one-horned rhinoceroses.

For 27 long years, 51-year-old Bipin Baruah has been guarding the National Park and has witnessed many devastating floods and rescued hundreds of wild animals. He shared an interesting anecdote while speaking to NDTV.

"When it does not flood well in Kaziranga, we have observed a rise in the cases of diseases among wild animals," Bipin Baruah said while looking for animals drowned in flood waters.

After the flood water began receding over the past few days, a fresh bout of rains have inundated almost 90 percent of the park again.

The sanctuary has already lost 116 animals to the high floods, including several rhinos. Yet, floods are necessary for the animals of Kaziranga.

"Kaziranga is a riverine ecosystem and the river helps in cleaning the grassland and more nutrition is added to the grassland with every flooding. This is why Kaziranga has one of the most healthy grasslands," Park Director P Shivkumar told NDTV.

In past ten years, barring 2018, Kaziranga has witnessed mighty floods almost every season and conservationists find this is new trend quite alarming.

"We need the flood. But in the past, such massive floods would happen only once in every ten years. However, now it occurs almost every year probably due to some problem upstream," Dr. Rathin Burman , Joint Director of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), said.

Animals living in these grasslands and wetlands often drown in the high floods. Most animals are pushed to take refuge at higher grounds and often stray into the fringe villages, increasing the chances of encounters with the local villagers.

A national highway now runs through the animal corridor where mushrooming resorts and restaurants are increasing the chances of man-animal encounters as the animals try to escape the fury of the flood waters.