227 AN­I­MALS,

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - PRASANTA MAZUM­DAR @ Guwa­hati

IN­CLUD­ING 15 RHI­NOS & A ROYAL BEN­GAL TIGER, DEAD IN KAZI­RANGA NA­TIONAL PARK

AS the sec­ond wave of the floods in As­sam wreaks havoc, deaths were be­ing re­ported not just from the hu­man set­tle­ments, but from the wild too.

Fif­teen rhi­nos and a Royal Ben­gal Tiger were among 227 an­i­mals which have per­ished so far in the Kazi­ranga Na­tional Park. With nearly 35 per cent of the park — perched on the banks of the Brahma­pu­tra — still sub­merged, spec­u­la­tions arose that more an­i­mal car­casses were un­der wa­ter in the park.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial sources, the deaths were caused by drown­ing. The drowned an­i­mals in­cluded 187 hog deer, two swamp deer, four ele­phants, four wild boars, one por­cu­pine, two wa­ter buf­fa­los, 11 sam­bars be­sides the Royal Ben­gal Tiger and the 15 rhi­nos.

Park di­rec­tor, Satyen­dra Singh, told the Ex­press, “These an­i­mals pos­si­bly died on Au­gust 14 and 15 when the wa­ter level had risen alarm­ingly. Searches were be­ing con­ducted by the for­est guards of all 78 camps. There are some forests in­side the park which are vir­tu­ally in­ac­ces­si­ble but the for­est guards are try­ing to get in­side them to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion.”

Rul­ing out the pos­si­bil­ity of more car­casses be­ing un­der wa­ter, he said that they float. Stat­ing that the del­uge in 2012 had killed 793 an­i­mals, he said usu­ally more an­i­mals die when a flood per­sists for a few days.

So far, 50 an­i­mals have been res­cued by for­est guards, who were as­sisted by a wildlife NGO and lo­cals.

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