Assam flood kills animals in sanctuaries

Guwahati: The severe floods in Assam have resulted in the killing of a number of animals and inundation of large areas of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, including the world-famous Kaziranga. The animals which lost their lives in the annual scourge include two highly endangered one-horned rhinos, senior Forest Department officials said.

In the Kaziranga National Park, wild animals such as elephants, hog deers, swamp deers, buffaloes and wild boars have moved out of the park for shelter and food to the higher reaches of neighbouring hill district of Karbi Anglong. A one-horned rhino, a wild boar and 22 hog deers drowned in the swirling waters that have covered a vast portion of the Park.

Another 15 hog deers and a wild boar were killed after they were knocked down by vehicles on the National Highway 37 which passes through the Park. Last evening, Kaziranga oficials recovered a carcass of a one-horned rhino from the Karbi Anglong hills. It is presumed that the rhino, which escaped from the rising waters, was a victim of poaching as its horn is found missing.

More than a hundred wild animals, mainly hog deers, were also rescued and released in the Panbari reserve forest and Kukurakata reserve forest. "Round-the-clock vigilance has been arranged on the NH-37 and nearby high ground outside the Park. Animals which moved out to higher ground, particularly towards Karbi Anglong, are being guarded round the clock," an official said.

The administration of Golaghat district where Kaziranga is situated, has imposed prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC on NH-37 between Bokakhat and Jakhalabandha to regulate speed of vehicles in an effort to prevent accidents. Barricades have been placed at strategic points on the vital NH-37 with additional deployment of staff.

"Two mobile veterinary squads have been deployed to ensure proper rescue and rehabilitation of the marooned and distressed wild animals," the official said. Latest reports, however, said that the flood water has started receding from several stretches in the Park. In the Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary in upper Assam, 18 hog deer were rescued, while two others drowned.

In the Manas National Park which borders Bhutan in lower Assam and the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Morigaon district of central Assam, there was no report of death of animals despite huge swaths being under water.

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