Erosion, staff shortage threat to Assam's national park

The total area of 765 sq km of the park which includes the core and buffer areas comes only second to the over 800 sq km Kaziranga national park a world heritage site which is home to the famed and highly endangered one horned rhinos.

Park officials say severe staff shortage and erosion by the river Guijan which runs through the park has caused a threat to its existence since being declared a national park in 1999.

While there was a requirement of at least 102 forest guards the existing strength was only 30 and in case of foresters there were only seven of them when the required number was 31.

Unfortunately there are no no deputy rangers and no boatman to ferry the guards through the Guijan river to the park.

Apart from the poor staff strength another major threat to the park is the existence of two villages of Laika and Dadhia with the villagers exerting pressure on the core area.

Tinsukia wildlife divisional forest officer Vaibhav Mathur says that the park is totally inundated during monsoon and the terrain being flat wild animals struggle to find high ground.

Water of the rivers Lohit, Dihang, Dibang, Dibru and the mighty Brahmaputra has being constantly eroding the park's core area, he says.

"Moreover the two village, inhabited by the tribal Mising community, exert pressure on the core area in the form of firewood collection, timber felling and occasional poaching", says Mathur.

Fishing which is a way of life of Mising community also poses a severe stress on the habitat which is also pristine bird area, the forest official said.

The fringe villages along the southern boundary take full advantage of the innumerable rivulets to enter the park and engage in fish collection, firewood as well as illegalities as timber felling, he points out.

"Lack of manpower to patrol the forests is a severe systemic inadequacy with which the wildlife manager managing the Dibri Saikhowa park has to constantly deal with", he says.

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