Animal death toll in Kaziranga rises to 560

Guwahati: At least 560 animals, including 14 one-horned rhinos, have perished in the world-famed Kaziranga National Park during the ongoing floods in Assam.

Hog deer have suffered the most with 481 of them killed in the current floods, while ten swamp deer, 18 sambars, 36 wild boars, five porcupines, two hog badgers, two gaurs (Indian bison), two wild buffaloes and a fox have also perished in the deluge, Assam Forest and Environment Minister Rockybul Hussain said today.

The UNESCO World Heritage Park, which hosts two-thirds of the world`s Great One-horned Rhinoceroses, was still flooded though the water was receding and more carcasses were found floating.

Speeding vehicles have also claimed the lives of about 25 hog deer, while two rhinos were killed by poachers.

The Park, located on the edge of the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, has been flooded since June 26 and within a couple of days nearly 80 per cent of its 430 km area was inundated with only the natural and artificial highlands spared where the animals fled for shelter.

The Park, which experiences floods annually, has earlier suffered extensively in 1988 when 1023 animals had died and again in 1998 when 652 animals had perished.

The devastating floods have also caused extensive damage to roads, bridges and approaches to bridges though the actual extent of the damage was yet to be ascertained, he said.

Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has appealed the Prime Minister for Rs two crore for infrastructural development in the forest department, Hussain added.