June 19, 2002
Guwahati, June 19, IRNA -- Scores of endangered animals, including
wild Asiatic elephants and rhinos, have started migrating to safer
areas with floodwaters entering a wildlife sanctuary in India's
northeastern Assam state, officials Wednesday said.
"Most of the streams and lowlands inside the Kaziranga National
Park are filled with floodwaters of the river Brahmaputra forcing
animals to move to the adjoining Karbi Anglong hills for safety,"
park warden N K Vasu told IRNA.
"On Tuesday night, I saw a herd of elephants and rhinos crossing
the national highway that passes along the park and moving towards
the Karbi Anglong hills," he said.
The 430 sq km park, 220 kilometers east of Assam's capital
Guwahati, is home to the world's largest concentration of one-horned
rhinoceros. There are an estimated 1,600 rhinos at Kaziranga out
of a total world population of some 2,300 of this thick-skinned
Heavy monsoon rains over the past week have led to flash floods
in Assam submerging up to 40 villages and leaving more than 30,000
Government authorities have promulgated prohibitory orders asking
drivers to maintain a minimum speed on the national highway that
passes along the park.
Forest rangers say the trend of elephant herds moving to safer
areas are "strong indicators" that heavy flooding inside
the park was imminent.
"Elephants have very strong senses and could anticipate about
impending dangers and we have seen in the past that such responses
have come true," D D Boro, a park ranger, said.
Park officials are now worried of armed poacher gangs taking advantage
of the flood situation and killing animals that veer away from the
sanctuary areas to the hills.
Forest guards have intensified patrol along the highway and
special teams have been positioned along the hills to prevent poachers
from hunting the wildlife.
A kilogram of rhino horn sells at about Rs1.5 million in
international markets, while ivory trade is also very lucrative
for the poachers.