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WATCH: Assam government's neglect leads to Rhino deaths at Kaziranga National Park

Several Rhinos have died due to govt neglect at Kaziranga National Park. Photograph: (WION Web Team)

WION Web Team Assam, India Aug 04, 2017, 01.29 PM (IST) Pooja Mehta

Months before the monsoon season, Assam government's forest department and Kaziranga National Park authorities had decided to build 33 new highlands inside the park with vegetation to prevent animals especially one-horn rhinos from dying due to drowning in the flood waters. But, due to the delayed government procedures, not a single highland could be built and it resulted in 105 casualties. 

Highlands are artificial islands that are built across the Kaziranga National Park to provide vegetation to the animals so that they can survive during the floods till water recedes. 

The government had even floated tenders for companies offering to build these new highlands but due to the delayed government procedures, work to build the new highlands began late, around the pre-monsoon season. By the time work began on building these highlands, monsoons arrived and not a single highland could be built resulting in the death of several animals. Machines like Boulders, JCBs had to be pulled out as work could not be continued during the monsoon season. 

There are 111 highlands inside the Kaziranga National Park at present. However, most of them have suffered considerable wear and tear over the years and their heights were low as they were completely submerged in the flood waters. 

This year, a total of 105 animals of the Kaziranga National Park died which includes seven baby one-horn Rhinos and several deers. Baby Rhinos cannot swim and with short height, they drown easily. 

As a part of their natural habitat, animals of the Kaziranga National Park not just die while drowning in the flood waters, they also die during migration when hit by speeding vehicles. 

During the floods, animals migrate from the Kaziranga National Park to the hilly areas of the Karbi Anglong district which is just opposite the park. The animals stay in these hilly areas of the district till the water levels recede and then they come back to the park. 

However, the National Highway-37 in between the park and the Karbi Anglong district interferes with the animal corridor and their route of migration. While migrating from the park to the hilly areas, they are often hit by speeding vehicles. Hence, the government of Assam has imposed a hefty fine to prevent collision between the migrating animals and vehicles. A vehicle is not allowed to speed beyond 40km/hr over a 25 km stretch that has three animal corridors in between - Kanchanjuri, Haldibari and Panbari. A vehicle found flouting the rule is fined Rs.5,000. 

On the other hand, for poachers of the one-horn Rhinos and deers, the monsoon is their favourite time to hunt these animals. During migration, wild animals crossing the NH-37 are often targeted. However, the forest department has engaged local villagers and a special task force has been set up to keep poaching at bay. During the current monsoon season, not a single animal of the Kaziranga National Park has been killed by the poachers.

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