Kaziranga National Park Braces for Flooding

With floods looming large in Kaziranga National Park and likely to be inundated by the raging Brahmaputra River at any moment, the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) and IFAW-WTI run wildlife welfare centre has begun a pre-flood awareness campaign for the safety of wildlife in fringe areas of the park.

Assisted by Kaziranga Forest Authority, two awareness meetings composed of residents of six villages in sensitive zones were organized in Central and Eastern Range of the park. More alertness campaigns for wildlife protection during floods were discussed to protect the animals in Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong area.

Traditionally during floods, the animals of the park are evacuated to higher areas and hill ranges of Karbi Anglong crossing the NH-37. This national highway has become a death trap for many animals and therefore extra protection measures are needed to save the distracted animals from speeding vehicle where hog deers succumb to road hits during the flood every year.

To lessen human-animal conflict during flood disaster, the IFAW-WTI team has formulated a working plan for wildlife safety following the awareness meetings. Conservationists, village councils, village headmen, local NGOs, civil and forest authorities attended these meetings and educate villagers on how to save wildlife.

During the course of these meetings, CWRC’s animal welfare experts highlighted the issue of “unnecessary rescue” of wildlife that causes displacement and sometimes leads to animal mortality, especially in deer species.

CWRC designed informative billboards and leaflets were given to the village authorities to display strategic locations for public awareness during the floods. Every banner has emergency contact numbers of CWRC and Kaziranga Control Room for immediate rescue. Two contact numbers of Kaziranga Control Room (03776-268007) and CWRC (03776-269563) would be operational 247.

Mukul Tamuli, Range Officer, Central Range, Kaziranga, said at the awareness meeting, “During flood, we have to work together for wildlife safety in Kaziranga. For any wildlife emergency, forest authorities are ready to work with the community like previous years. We also urge the villagers to keep a close eye on the movement of poachers during flood and intimate the forest authorities.”

The Mobile Veterinary Service unit of CWRC that has a team of veterinarians, animal keepers, biologists and other conservationists are ready to attend to any wildlife emergency.

Annually, Brahmaputra inundates the Kaziranga National Park and animals start moving towards Karbi Anglong foot hills where the threat of poaching is considerably high. Jagat Bahadur Chetri, renowned social worker from Tamuli Pathar village near Kaziranga, urged the participants not to catch deer which stray out of the park. He asked villagers to inform the Kaziranga Control room or CWRC if any wild animal needs to be rescued.

CWRC also trained a group of boys and girls of the fringe villages of Kaziranga on wild-rescue as part of the pre-flood awareness campaign.

The CWRC is all set with their animal cages for any kind of rescue operation at CWRC. The animal keepers of the centre are prepared to tackle any kind of wildlife emergencies. Till now, no rescue call has been received but forest guards are ensuring that drivers are not over speeding with the Time Card facility.

During the 2014 floods, four MVS units of CWRC rescued 33 wild animals that strayed out of Kaziranga in search of a safer location.

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in Assam, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora of Assam, and the things that affect them.