A hog deer fleeing the floodwaters of Kaziranga National Park (KNP) was killed by a speeding vehicle on the National Highway-37 (NH-37) — which cuts across KNP — on Saturday morning. The animal was seeking refuge in the highlands from the floods.
As heavy rains continue to lash and leave 25 districts reeling in Assam, Section 144 was imposed around the vicinity of the Park, 90 per cent of which is currently submerged, as confirmed by the authorities. In these circumstances, it is common for wild animals to move to safer ground.
“Animals like deer and elephants try to move to highlands — mostly the hilltops of Karbi Anglong. Sometimes they take refuge in artificial highlands that have been created within the Park,” said KNP director, P Sivakumar, confirming the death of the hog deer earlier in the morning in the Bagori Range. “Six more hog deer have been rescued and released in the highland,” he said.
The authorities have issued speed limits (30 km per hour) and installed various check posts to curb further incidents. “We are now going to issue time cards for vehicles passing through the area,” said Sivakumar. The NH-37 is the only path for these animals to move to highlands during the monsoons.
Starting a #thread on #AssamFloods #Kaziranga with this first rescue of a hog deer @action4ifaw @vivek4wild
Follow this thread for more updates on #wildliferescue over the coming days. + pic.twitter.com/hSCaDaKsEg
— Wildlife Trust India (@wti_org_india) July 13, 2019
According to a press statement from the office of Parimal Suklabaidya, Minister of Forests & Environment, Assam, the government has requested “support and coordination from each and every departmental staff across all national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of Assam” and, in the light of the situation, has cancelled all leave request of the staff.
The park authorities have also appealed to people to contact the forest department immediately if they come across a wild animal on the highway.
“Flocks of animals — deer and elephants have been crossing the highway all day,” said Joint Director of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) Rathin Barman, speaking from KNP’s Panbari corridor.
“As we speak, a herd of elephants are waiting to pass by but have been held up because of the traffic in the highway,” he said.
Barman described the current situation as a result of “medium” flood. “If the rains continue like this, it will get much worse. By tomorrow evening we will know how bad the situation really is. The water levels at Nimati Ghat are very concerning.” The Brahmaputra River is currently flowing above the danger level at Nimati Ghat in Jorhat.
The flood situation in the rest of Assam remains grave: 14,06,711 people have been affected over 25 districts (Dhemaji, Biswanath, Sonitpur, Darrang, Baksa, Barpeta, Nalbari, Chirang, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Goalpara, Morigaon, Hojai, Nagaon, Golaghat, Majuli, Jorhat, Sivsagar, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, West Karbi Anglong, Lakhimpur, Kamrup, Cachar and Dhubri) out of the state’s 33 districts. One more person has died in Dhemaji taking the death toll up to 7. There are more than 20,000 inmates in 62 relief camps operational in the various affected districts of the state.