India (AFP) Jul 06, 2003
Floods in northeastern India's Assam
state have forced elephants, tigers and other wild animals from
to seek safety on higher ground at nearby farms and highways.
Over the last few days, at least 150 to 200 elephants have migrated
to nearby hills due to the floods in Kaziranga," Kaziranga sanctuary
warden N.V. Vasu told AFP.
On Friday a herd of 64 elephants blocked
a highway that criss-crosses the sanctuary, which is on the banks
of the mighty Brahmaputra river,
and took a leisurely stroll before disappearing into the thick
jungles on the other side, he said.
Our forest guards patrolling the highway had blocked traffic on either
side of the highway to allow the elephants to cross the road to prevent
the animals from being hit by speeding vehicles," the warden
At another spot a majestic tiger blocked
another portion of the highway for 15 minutes.
The tiger was relaxing on the highway and it was indeed a treat for
people who stopped their vehicles before the big cat vanished into
the thick undergrowth," a roadside hotelier said.
Animals like wild boars and deer have been straying into human settlements
in the fringe areas of the park with the floodwaters increasing day-by-day," he
The Brahmaputra has been swollen by
heavy monsoon rains that have been falling since last month, and
has flooded into Kaziranga,
houses the world's largest population of one-horned rhino and a
big group of Asiatic elephants.
The floods have claimed the lives of
a rhino and a buffalo, according to Kaziranga authorities, while
hog deer and a python were killed
by speeding vehicles as they were trying to cross the highway to
escape the rising waters.
We have imposed prohibitory orders asking truckers to drive slowly
as they pass the highway that runs along the park," Vasu said.
least 70 animals, including rhinos and wild buffaloes, were drowned
in floods inside the sanctuary last year, while speeding vehicles
mowed down 32 animals on the highway.
This year's floods have also
exacted a human toll. Since June 27, at least 13 people have drowned
or been buried by mudslides in the
three northeastern states of Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya, officials
An Assam government statement said
Sunday 19 of the states 24 districts were hit by the floods affecting
some 916,453 people.
of the animals has sometimes brought them into conflict with villagers,
who try to chase them away with noisy firecrackers,
fire and loud drums, residents of the area said.
At a tea garden in
Karbi Anglong hills, close to the sanctuary, a group of elephants
was found enjoying home-brewed rice beer straight
out of casks.
We now fear that the Kaziranga elephants would make it a habit to
enter our colony as they have got the taste of rice beer," said
a worker at the tea garden, Madhu Ram.
It was a sight to be seen to find the four elephants enjoying the
drink. The elephants sipped to its last drop before smashing the
earthen cask in which the beer was brewed," Ram said.
reserved. © 2002 Agence France-Presse.