Agence France Presse
June 13, 2000
KAZIRANGA, India - Forest rangers in one of India's largest wildlife
sanctuaries have been placed on alert as flood waters threaten to
submerge the park, officials said Tuesday.
The level of the mighty Brahmaputra river, which flows through
the 430 square kilometer (172 square mile) Kaziranga National Park
in the eastern state of Assam, has risen alarmingly, with flood
waters already seeping into the sanctuary.
At least 20 people have died in the past three days in flooding
in Assam and neighbouring Arunachel Pradesh.
"We have stationed motor boats at vantage points for immediate
evacuation of forest guards deployed deep inside the park, besides
taking other precautionary measures to protect the wildlife from
being marooned," Kaziranga warden Parthasarathi Das told AFP.
"Flood waters may inundate Kaziranga any moment as the Brahmaputra
has been flowing alarmingly. Some of the marshy lands inside the
park have already been submerged."
Kaziranga is home to about 1,500 one-horned rhinoceros, a highly
endangered species found only in some pockets of Assam, Bhutan and
The total world population of one-horned rhino is estimated at
little more than 2,000.
Wildlife authorities have put up barricades to restrict all vehicles
to a maximum of 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour on a highway passing
along the park.
"We have been regulating the speed of all vehicles as animals
might try and cross the highway to escape the floods," said
park ranger Bidyut Barthakur.
During high floods in the past two years, more than 100 rhinos
have been killed in the park, along with 600 other endangered animals.
At least 20 animals were killed by speeding vehicles on the highway.
Floods apart, poachers are also causing problems for the rangers.
"During the floods, animals migrate to some adjoining hills
and it is then they become vulnerable to attacks from poachers,"
"We are getting help and cooperation from villagers residing
in the periphery of the park since we started an awareness campaign
about wildlife conservation," Barthakur said.