17 rhinos among 200 wildlife deaths in Kaziranga floods

17 rhinos among 200 wildlife deaths in Kaziranga floods

Flood is necessary for Kaziranga as the water grows new grass and shrubs for feeding its herbivores. But the deluge almost every year turns fatal for wildlife in the national park.

This year’s flood was no different as nearly 200 animals, including 17 one-horned rhinos, the park’s attraction has died in floods, which inundated 95% of its 434-sq km area.

According to information furnished by park authorities, hog deers bore the maximum brunt as 124 drowned in floodwater or killed by speeding vehicles on the National Highway 37 while fleeing to highlands to avoid the flood.

“So far carcasses of 16 rhinos, which drowned in floodwater has been recovered with their horns intact while another rhino died after falling off a hill which it tried to climb to avoid flooding. Two baby rhinos aged below six months also became orphans as their parents drowned in floodwater. They are being taken care of at the wildlife rescue center in Kaziranga and will be released in the wild at the appropriate time” an official in the park said.

At least 17 wild boars, 13 sambars and an elephant also drowned in the flood water this time. Flood water in the Unesco World Heritage site has not yet receded completely as 27 of the 199 anti-poaching camps are still inundated. These camps were set up to check to poach and protect animals inside the park.

In 2017, over 400 animals including 31 rhinos had died due to flood and vehicle hits on the NH 37 similarly.

The park official, however, said 34 new highlands created by the forest department inside the park provided shelter to the marooned animals this time.

With 2,413 rhinos (2018 census), Kaziranga is the home to world’s largest number of one-horned rhinos.