In a bid to boost tourism and shore up revenue post Covid-19 lockdown, the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) authorities in Assam have introduced boating, cycling and trekking tours in the fringe area of the park for the first time in its history.
“Earlier, the park could be explored only via jeep safaris and elephant rides — this is the first time boats, bicycles and trekking have been introduced,” said P Sivakumar, KNPTR director. The park — famous for its one-horned rhinos — re-opened in October, after being shut for eight months due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
The boat safari — which has three trails — was launched at Bhomoraguri under the Nagaon wildlife division in November.
“A number of unused buildings from the time of the construction of the Kalia Bhomora bridge (across Brahmaputra) in the 1980s had been lying around abandoned. Those have been renovated and made into the Bhomoraguri wildlife beat office,” said Sivakumar. “The boating point, which leads to three boating routes are located near this.”
Sivakumar said the routes were designed to promote “dolphin tourism”. “We have 150 plus dolphins in KNPTR — this was huge tourism potential, which remained unused till now,” he said. “Ten per cent of tourism this season has alone come from this.” Both country boats and speed boats are being used, and a two-hour ride costs about Rs 2,000-Rs 3,000, Sivakumar said.
The authorities have also introduced two trekking trails in Natundanga-Baneshwar and Chirang, under the Burapahar range of the park. “We have identified cycling trails too — but they are yet to start,” he said.
The extended closure of the park because of the lockdown — which followed the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests last year — dealt a major blow to tourism at Kaziranga, especially affecting the local communities who depend on tourism for their income.
New interventions have been introduced outside the core area of the park. “The core area of the park will not be disturbed at all, these additions are only in the fringe areas. While our aim is to increase tourism revenue, we do not want to disturb the animals in any way,” he said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines