‘Flooding in Kaziranga park helps its ecosystem’

Hyderabad: Observing that the flooding in the famous Kaziranga National Park of Assam actually helps in maintaining its ecosystem, an expert in wildlife on Friday said precautionary measures should be taken to see that animals remain safe during rainy season.

"Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Park (both in Assam) cannot be world heritage sites without the flood. When Brahmaputra floods and goes back, the grass grows again. That is why there are so many deer and so many tigers. Ecosystem is kept alive by the new grass and new growth which is because of the floods. So, flood is good for Kaziranga, but bad for individual animals," Vivek Menon, Executive Director of conservation organisation Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), told reporters here.

He was speaking on the sidelines of an event on wildlife at the ongoing UN Convention on biological diversity here.

This year's floods at Kaziranga have resulted in displacement and death of several animals. The animals in the parks face danger, mainly because the water level rises suddenly in a flash flood, making it difficult for the animals to move to safer places, Menon said.

"Flooding is important. The problem animals die is not because it floods. The problem is because of flash flood, sudden rise of water. If you give little time, the animals know how to get away. They have their own mechanism."

"Flash flood is largely due to some dam somewhere releasing water very fast. It is definitely a human cause, water manipulation, by which animals are getting trapped. They are not anticipating. So, we monitor water level," he said.

WTI has rehabilitated, which includes handling, treating and putting the animals back, about 3,000 animals in the last 10 years in the northeast, he said.

The animals come out of the forest or get displaced either due to flooding, poaching or some other human intervention and the fall in forest habitat, he said.

The Manas National Park was taken off the 'Red' list of UNESCO, the only natural heritage site in India to figure in the list, after unrest due to insurgency ended there. The other heritage sites to find place in the danger list were in strife-torn countries like Congo.

Earlier, the speakers at the event stressed the need for empathy for all life forms 'humans and non-humans' to direct efforts to successfully implement the Strategy of the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) effectively.

The CBD strategy spells out 20 Aichi targets on diverse issues focused on biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of resources.

"There are at least four Aichi targets – 1, 4, 5, 9, 11, 12 and 17 that needs to include animal welfare to achieve conservation goals," said Peter Pueschel, Programme Director IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare). Chairing the session, Dr M K Ranjitsinh, Chairman of WTI stressed that "Welfare is the bedrock of conservation."