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SOS Rhino : In the News : Assamese youth initiate drive to save Kaziranga wild life
 

Assamese youth initiate drive to save Kaziranga wild life

  Posted on 26 July, 2005
www.newkerala.com/news
Online Newspaper since 2001

By Peter Ted Alex, Karziranga: The youths of Assam have now stepped in to save the wildlife of the world famous Kaziranga National Park. Young men patrol through the night along the highways to prevent speeding vechicles from over-running wild animals crossing over during the monsoon season.

The Kaziranga National Park lies to the south of the mighty Brahmaputra river and is often inundated by floods during the monsoons.

Because of these heavy showers, animals in the Park cross tend to the highway to reach the other side of the hilly area in search of food, and are often hit by speeding vehicles.

“During flood season, there is flood in the park, and the animals move to the other side of the highway. As a result, the speeding vehicles kill the animals,” said Sanjeev Patar, a local.

Kaziranga National Park is a sanctuary for more than half of the world’s one-horned rhinoceros population . Elephants, rhinos, wild buffaloes, gaurs, tigers, swamp deer, sambar deer are some of the other animals living in the park.

At night, the forest guards along with the locals patrol the road and warn drivers to drive slowly along the Highway.

Earlier, the forest guards had limited man power, but with awareness among the people growing, a whole hearted campaign to protect Assam’s rich wildlife heritage is distinctly visible.

But there is also a flip side to all this. The local youth in the neighbouring areas of Kaziranga Park have found a new means for sustenance. Generally, during the six month long tourists season, the youth act as tourist guides and earn around rupees 15,000( $349) through their jeep safaris. But for another six months, they are left unemployed.

Now, youth joining the forest guards in patrolling Highway 37, are provided with food from the nearby restaurants and hotels.

“We and our Jeep Safari Association and the locals help the forest officials. It is the animals through which we can earn, showing the animals to the tourists who visit the Park from different places,” said Patar.

Forest officials appreciate the efforts of the youth.

“We feel very relaxed because we have limited staff in Kaziranga and in the monsoon when the Park is flooded, most of the animals cross the National Highway Number 37 to the other side of the hill. The local boys help us to stop the vehicles at night to let the animals cross the Highway,” said Dharanidhar Bora, a forest official.

The forest officials claim that due to the joint effort of the locals and the officials, at least 50 percent to 70 percent animals can be saved during the monsoon.

Originally established as a game reserve in 1908, which included specific portions of Assam’s Sibsagar district, Kaziranga was declared a sanctuary in 1940 to counter excessive poaching.

In 1974, the Indian Government declared it as a protected site.It covers an area of 430-sq-kms making an ideal habitat for the Indian One-Horned Rhino.

Kaziranga also has a commendable population of birds. One can find huge flocks of pelicans, rose-ringed parakeets apart from crested serpent eagles, grey-headed fishing eagles, red jungle fowl, Bengal floricabs, bar-headed geese, whistling teals and swamp partridges.




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