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SOS Rhino : In the News : Current Rhino News : Flood waters in India engulf world's largest habitat of one-horned rhino

Flood waters in India engulf world's largest habitat of one-horned rhino

  July 25, 2002 1:24 AM ET

By WASBIR HUSSAIN, Associated Press Writer

GAUHATI, India - Flood waters have engulfed the world's largest habitat of the one-horned rhino in northeastern India, forcing the endangered animals to move across a busy highway to seek safety on higher ground.

More than 1 million people have been made homeless as swirling waters of the Brahmaputra River and its tributaries have submerged about 1,000 villages in northeastern Assam state this month, Flood Control Minister Nurjamal Sarkar said Thursday.

At least six people have been drowned in the floods that began July 1.

The state also includes the 430-square-kilometer (165 square mile) Kaziranga National Park, home to 1,500 of the world's 2,200 one-horned rhinos, an endangered species.

"Since Tuesday, I have seen elephant herds in hundreds and rhinos migrating by crossing the highway to escape the floods," Park Director N.K. Vasu said on Thursday.

Except for artificially built highlands, the entire park is submerged, with water levels ranging from five to 10 feet (1.5 to three meters), Vasu told The Associated Press by telephone from Kaziranga, 230 kilometers (140 miles) east of Gauhati, the state capital.

"Last night, two hog deer were crushed to death by speeding trucks as the animals were crossing the highway to move over to higher ground," Vasu said.

At least 10 animals, including a sambar deer and a large Indian civet, were hit by vehicles during the past few days, he said.

Animals have also entered the villages that surround Kaziranga. "Locals have joined park rangers to protect the escaping animals by mounting vigil on the highway," Vasu said.



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