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Flood boon for grass-eaters in Jaldapara

Jalpaiguri, July 13: Pounding rain, surging floodwater and falling food reserves: animals in Jaldapara have survived it all.

Good times now appear to be round the corner for the wildlife in the sanctuary, still recovering from the worst flood in recent memory.

As the water recedes, foresters are hoping for a new beginning. They say the silt left by the flooding could turn into grassland, helping the herbivores, which enjoy a majority in the game park known for rhinos.

This is not all. The flooding has made a dry bed of Torsha into a torrent, slicing through the sanctuary and providing a water source for the thirsty animals.

“With some help from the sun, the silt beds will soon transform into extensive grasslands, increasing the browsing area for the herbivores and also provide the new borns ideal cover from predators,” said Kumar Vimal, the assistant wildlife warden of the sanctuary.

“Torrential rains have turned the dry Torsha tributary into a gushing stream. This will serve as the ideal drinking place for the skittish deer,” said Kumar.

Officials of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Gorumara National Park and Buxa Tiger Reserve echoed him. “For all the problems that the department and the animals had to go through at the height of the flood, such siltation is necessary to keep the forest alive,” said a forester.

Without regular floods, trees like Simul, Sishu and Khair take over open stretches of grassland, robbing the undergrowth of sunlight and nutrition. “In time, the grasslands vanish. The heavy silt left by the floodwaters weaken the trees and clear the area to promote the growth of grass,” said Kumar. The regeneration starts in weeks. “In around two months, the elephant grass would grow to complete the process.”

For the rhinos, elephants, sambhar, barking deer, hog deer and the gaur which survived the calamity, the flood was a blessing.

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