| A rhino wades through floodwater in Kaziranga |
Jorhat, July 4: Kaziranga National Park authorities have organised a series of pre-flood awareness campaigns and imposed a speed limit on vehicles plying on the stretch of National Highway 37 passing through the national park, as a precautionary measure against the floods that hit Kaziranga almost every year.
The awareness campaign was held at the fringe villages in the adjacent Karbi Anglong hills to sensitise the villages on the crisis faced by wildlife during the floods.
A Kaziranga official said though the water level of the Brahmaptura is rising, water has not yet entered the park.
“If the water level continues to rise, floodwaters will enter the national park soon,” the official said.
Veterinary experts from the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) were also present during the campaign and shared their experiences from previous years with the villagers.
They emphasised the need for animal safety during the floods and the basic dos and don’ts when villagers spot an animal in distress.
Every year, wild animals from Kaziranga move towards the higher and safer lands in the foothills of Karbi Anglong, crossing National Highway 37 through different safe passages. Many of the animals are stressed and require medical intervention during this period, which is provided by CWRC in collaboration with the forest department every year.
The fringe villages of Karbi Anglong have for long served as shelters for many animals such as deer, rhinos, wild boars and elephants during the flood season, making awareness among the locals pertinent.
“We got a call from one of the village authorities from one fringe village during this campaign about a hog deer’s presence in the Karbi hills. A veterinary team rescued and released the animal back in Kaziranga after a few hours of observation. So, I feel that the pre-flood awareness campaign had created an impact on the villagers and immediate response had started coming from the villages where the campaign was launched,” a forest official said.
The campaign covered 13 fringe villages of Kaziranga National Park.
“We have distributed leaflets with the dos and don’ts in the vernacular, which also included emergency contact numbers to the 24-hour control room of Kaziranga National Park director’s office as well of CWRC. The villagers were also shown wildlife awareness movies, along with PowerPoint presentations on rescue situations,” the official said.
The forest official said the speed limit on vehicles plying on the national highway has already been imposed and vehicles have been directed not to exceed 30km/hour on the particular stretch of the highway, which passes through the national park. “Speed guns/speed cameras are being installed now in various locations,” the forest official said.
The Assam government has already constructed speed breakers at every 400 metres on that particular stretch of the highway.