As many as 108 wild animals, including eight rhinos, have died at the Kaziranga National Park in the last couple of months amid the devastating flood that has inundated around 95 per cent of the 430-square-kilometre park just a few days ago.
Though the water level has slightly decreased on July 18, the animals continue to suffer. On July 18, around 85 per cent of the park was still under water.
Altogether 60 animals, including eight rhinos, 36 hog deer, seven wild boar, three wild buffalos, two swamp deer, two porcupine, one sambar and a python have died in the flood.
At least 15 hog deer were killed by the speeding vehicles on the National Highway 37 which runs through the park. The rest of the deaths have been caused by natural reasons.
“Forests staff found the carcasses of three rhinos, one each at western, eastern and central forest range of the park. All died due to drowning in floodwaters. Of the three full-grown animals, two are male and one female,” a park official said on July 18.
Three tigers also strayed out of the park and took shelter in the residence of a neighbouring villager as the water level rose inside the park. All the tigers, however, have returned safely to the jungle.
Among these, one two-year-old tigress had to be tranquilised and provided treatment at the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC).
On July 18, one rhino was seen sitting on the side of the National Highway 37 even as vehicles continued to ply by its side. The tired looking rhino, however, later went back to the jungle.
The park official told The News Mill that the rhino is not showing any signs of anxiety or panic anymore.
The animals rush towards the higher places as flood water submerged most of the areas.
Though, a good number of animals are lost during the floods every year, the flood is regarded as important for the ecosystem of the park.
“Flood is the backbone of a flood-plain ecosystem. Without floods, Kaziranga won’t be like this and there won’t be any rhino in Kaziranga. So, the natural flood is okay untill we can provide safe passage for the animals towards the highlands (Karbi Anglong). But I am worried of the big dam constructions in the upstream of Brahmaputra which may cause havoc with adding more water to the river in less time and may finish Kaziranga in downstream in no time,” wildlife biologist Rathin Barman who is the joint director of WTI and head of the CWRC at Kaziranga National Park, had told this reporter during a recent conversation.