Abnormally heavy rainfall during April has inundated most low-lying areas of Kaziranga National Park forcing animals including one-horned rhinos to move to highlands, and thus increasing their vulnerability in the past couple of weeks.
“We have experienced abnormally heavy rain in April itself. Most low-lying areas have been inundated and the rivers passing through Kaziranga are in full spate for the past few days. This has prompted the animals to rush to highlands and thus making them vulnerable to poaching,” said Park director MK Yadava.
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Poachers have this year already killed nine one-horned rhinos in Kaziranga, which is a high figure compared to 27 killings during the entire 2014. Kaziranga had lost27 rhinos to poachers during 2013 too.
“We have already intensified patrolling especially in those areas where the animals have taken shelter. The sudden inundation can also lead to animals getting trapped in isolated highlands where fodder would not be available,” Yadava added.
“The Met department has forecast that the rain will gradually reduce. But while this is only spring, we do not know what is in store during the monsoon months,” he said.
While Kaziranga requires moderate floods to flush out its debris and recharge its numerous water-bodies, occasional high floods have always caused havoc, leading to death of animals in large numbers.
In the 2012 floods for instance, Kaziranga had lost nearly 600 animals, which included at least 14 rhinos. The worst was during 1988 when the Park had lost ove 1020 animals.
Kaziranga has remained in the headlines for the past few years because of increased incidents of poaching, while the frontline staff has also struck back, in the process killing as many as 22 poachers during 2014.
“This year our men have already killed nine poaches while 27 have been caught alive and handed over to the police,” the Park director informed. In 2013 the Park guards had apprehended the highest number of 71 poachers, while 47 poachers were apprehended during 2014.