Assam's Kaziranga National Park prepares for floods

Assam's Kaziranga National Park prepares for floods

With rains already lashing some parts of Assam, the state is gearing up to control damage during floods, including possible death of its wildlife.

As part of the flood preparation, 33 new highlands have been constructed in Kaziranga National Park (KNP), which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the world's largest number of one-horned rhinos. Over 500 animals, including over 30 rhinos, had died during the devastating floods in 2017.

Inspecting the construction of the new highlands, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Sunday instructed officials to ensure the safety of wildlife, the supply of food and veterinary services for the flood-hit animals.

"Chief Minister directed the forest department to ensure that the animals in the national park can take refuge on the highlands without being strayed in the unsafe areas because of the impact of surging water during flood. He also asked the department to make adequate quantity of food stuff ready for the animals," said an official statement.

The lack of sufficient number of highlands was one of the reasons of drowning of wildlife, including mainly rhinos during the floods in 2017.

The state government had decided to construct the new highlands in order to prevent death of animals. With construction of the 33 new highlands, Kaziranga now has 134 such shelters during floods. Officials said such highlands will also help forest personnel to keep vigil during floods to prevent poaching, which is a concern in the national park.

With over 2,200 rhinos, Kaziranga is world's biggest home for one-horned rhinos, apart from Royal Bengal tigers, elephants, wild buffaloes and deers. The KNP will remain closed for tourists from May 16 for the Monsoon and possible floods. Officials said the park will re-open after the Monsoon. Sonowal also instructed the officials to improve amenities for tourists, without affecting flora and fauna of national park.

Majuli floods

Sonowal also took stock of the anti-erosion measures being undertaken by the Brahmaputra Board in Majuli, the island district. The river island, which is a centre of Vaishnavite culture and is one of the tourist attractions in Assam, witnesses serious floods almost every year. Meanwhile, the Army has also started taking preventive measures with other disaster management agencies to control the flood damage in Assam.