Context: The recent floods in Assam has caused havoc in the Kaziranga National Park, killing more than 73 animals and causing 85% submergence. 

Relevance of Floods:

  • A certain degree of flooding is desired owing to the nature of the park's landscape as it is a riverine system not a solid landmass based system.
  • Flooding helps replenish the parks water bodies and play a role in development of floodplains.
  • Flood waters also functions as a breeding ground for fish in the park which are further transferred to brahmaputra river, thereby helping replenish the river system.
  • They help in maintaining the grasslands for the herbivore population by getting rid of unwanted invasive plants like water hyacinth.

Problems created by Floods:

  • Deforestation and release of Dam waters upstream has significantly enhanced flooding in the park with them occurring every year since 2016 (Except 2018) and killing numerous animals.
  • They induce animals to migrate to higher areas like Karbi Anglong hills where there is lack of sufficient food for them.
  • Many die during transit as they have to cross national highway 37 for it and in spite of 9 wildlife corridors, traffic congestion is a normalcy.
  • Once out of the park due to flooding, the animals become even more vulnerable to poaching.
  • Flooding in the park also increases man-animal conflict in nearby villages and also destroys the crops of farmers.
  • A considerable amount of time of villagers is spent guiding strayed animals to safer ground, treating those injured and generally keeping a strict vigil round the clock.

Combating Floods:

  • The authorities keep a cautious check on flooding levels in Brahmaputra throughout the year.
  • They also take help from NGOs and local people to run awareness and vaccination campaigns on floods and diseases proliferated by flooding.
  • Whenever floods hit, Section 144 of Cr.pc is imposed along NH-37 which helps in minimising man-animal conflict.
  • Barricades are used to help animals smoothly cross NH -37 and reach Karbi Anglong.
  • Artificial Highlands are created within the park so as to cut on transition time and provide a refuge to the old animals who don’t have the vigour to travel to Karbi Anglong.

Way Ahead:

  • The above solutions are helpful but fall short of achieving the desired results.
  • The experts that emphasis needs to be put on securing animal corridors and ensuring a safe passage to the Karbi hills rather than creating more artificial highlands as -
    • Such constructions ruin the natural ecosystem 
    • It can’t accommodate all the animals of the forest.
    • They fail to inculcate confidence in animals who have been migrating to Karbi Anglong hills for centuries.
  • The proposed 35km long flyover on NH-37 should be made immediately using modern technology that causes minimum animal disturbance.  
  • The April 2019 decision of the Supreme Court which banned all types of mining and related activities along the park’s southern boundary and in the entire catchment area of the rivers must be enforced properly.
  • A landscape scale approach needs to be adopted in which the southern part comprising Karbi-Anglong Hills is also taken into consideration as it is the lifeline of the park during the floods.

Kaziranga National Park:

  • It is home to the world's most one-horned rhinos and has 96 species of wetland birds.
  • It is recognized as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for conservation of avifaunal species.
  • National Highway 37 passes through the park.
  • Much of the focus of conservation efforts in Kaziranga is focused on the 'big four' species— rhino, elephant, Royal Bengal tiger and Asiatic water buffalo.
  • The park is located between Brahmaputra river and Karbi Anglong hills in Assam.
  • It is also a tiger reserve and a UNESCO world heritage site.
  • Located on the edge of the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, the park combines high species diversity and visibility.
  • It is a vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests, criss-crossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and the park includes numerous small bodies of water.

Source: the times.co.uk



Image Source: Indian Express