BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, Aug 1: As many as 242 wild animals including 20 rhinos have so far died in the current wave of floods in the famous Kaziranga tiol Park (KNP).
The park is facing a major wildlife crisis this year as large portions of its area have been inundated in what are being described as the worst floods in a decade.
KNP officials informed that among other animal casualties till Monday evening, hog deers top the list with 185 having perished in swirling waters.“Of these, 169 died due to drowning and 14 were killed by speeding vehicles when trying to cross tiol highway 37. Next in the casualty list are wild boars, with 12 of these animals drowned during high flood,” said a park official.
The official said of the 20 rhinos, 16 died of drowning and another four perished primarily because of old age.
9 swamp deer, four wild buffalos, two hog badgers, two porcupines, six sambars, one python and one pelican have also perished in the deluge. With water levels now receding in Kaziranga, teams of Assam Forest department and a mobile veteriry service unit from the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) have so far rescued 107 wild animals in the park.
MVS teams have handled 107 rescue cases in seven days. They have released 62 hog deer out of 92 rescued cases. MVS have also attended, with the AFD, three rescued eastern swamp deer.
Eight rhinos, all calves separated from their mothers, have been kept under observation at the Large Animal Nursery at CWRC. A jungle owlet and a fishing cat were also admitted to the centre for treatment during the floods.
“The number of animals under our care has risen sharply in the last week”, said Dr Rathin Barman, Deputy Director, WTI and centre-in-charge.
“We have had to erect a temporary shelter where two baby elephants are being housed. Two paddocks are also ready to shift the rhino calves into once they become stable. Of course, several of these animals will require long term care after we can look beyond the current situation towards possible rehabilitation into the wild,” he said
“Our veteririans and animal keepers have been working round the clock to ensure that rescued animals get the required treatment and care”, said Dr Panjit Basumatary, lead veteririan at the centre.
“A lot of the animals, as you would expect from the trauma they have undergone, are highly stressed. Several of the orphaned rhino calves in particular were injured and emaciated, and were initially not responding to our milk formula. They are now responding well, however – which brings its own set of challenges since they are aggressive, yet have to be hand-raised and rehabilitated before release,” he said.