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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : June 2000 : Floods threaten endangered rhino in eastern India

Floods threaten endangered rhino in eastern India

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 Nepal.

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," Das said.

"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.




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