The floods have also damaged the infrastructure at the national park.
New Delhi: As many as 369 animals have died at the Kaziranga National Park in two successive waves of floods since July, the Indian Express has reported.
According to the report, nearly two dozen rhinos, one tiger, several elephants and buffaloes, and over 250 deer of various species have been killed by the flooding. PTI, however, has put the count of dead animals as 215. The Times of India put the number at 364.
“Till date, we found bodies of 13 rhinos, 188 hog deer, four elephants, two swamp deer, four wild boars, two buffaloes, one Royal Bengal tiger and one porcupine. All died due to drowning”, Rohoni Ballav Saikia, Kaziranga’s divisional forest officer, told PTI.
Even though the water level dropped by 13 cm on Monday, about 30% of the park is still under water. “The first wave of floods in July came in slowly; the second wave was very rapid, catching the animals almost totally unawares,” park director Satyendra Singh told the Indian Express. “On August 12 for instance, the water level rose by more than ten feet in just about 10-12 hours.” Saikia said the carcasses of the animals are being recovered from four ranges as the water slowly recedes.
Saikia told PTI that due to flooding in the park, the animals are facing a shortage of food, compelling them to go out to the nearby hills, tea gardens and even human habitations in search of food.
“The total death toll could be more by another 15 to 20 as combing and rescue operations are yet to be completed. We have covered most of the park area, but some portions are still left because of inaccessible terrains. We have also managed to rescue about 50 animals, including six rhino calves. All of them have been sent for treatment,” Singh told Mail Today.
The infrastructure at the national park has also been damaged in the floods. Singh told the Indian Express that a sizeable number of wooden bridges and anti-poaching camps have been damaged.
According to a report in the Times of India, a total of 39 out of 178 anti-poaching camps remain under water. Many animals, including an estimated 20 rhinos, are currently seeking shelter on the highlands in adjoining Karbi Anglong district.
“We will be able to make a final assessment only when the entire flood-water flows out of the park. But several wooden bridges as well as pucca culverts have been visibly damaged, some of them also washed away,” he said.
Kaziranga will require major road repairs once the water recedes. The first wave had caused an infrastructure damage of Rs 7.35 crore.
(With inputs from PTI)