Assam Floods: Wildlife Threatened All Across The State

The flood situation in Assam has remained grim yet as more and more people dying every day, taking the toll to 66, while 48.87 lakh people were affected in 30 of the 33 districts. Along with the lives of people and the districts, there has been a huge loss of the animals and their habitat.

Source: PTI

A total of 1,50,213,60 hectares agricultural land has been submerged and around 90 percent of rhino habitats (the Kaziranga National Park and the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary) is underwater. The floods have affected over 22 lakh big and small animals, besides 23 lakh poultry birds, according to a statement by the ASDMA(Assam State Disaster Management Authority)

The Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve are sandwiched between the Brahmaputra River in the north and the verdant Karbi Anglong hills in the extreme south. Together they make up the 25,000-square-kilometer (9,650-square-mile) Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Landscape.

Source: PTI

The expansive grasslands, swamps and open jungle of the park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are home to more than 2,400 rhinos, 100 Bengal tigers and 1,100 elephants.   The water level of River Brahmaputra has been rising above the danger level across the state, swelling up in Guwahati.

Approx 95% of Kaziranga National Park (home to the endangered one-horned rhinos) has been flooded with the death of 17 wild animals.  Till 20th of this month, 12 rhinos died, 11 of them mostly calves were drowned and one died after falling in a pit. The floodwater has also affected 155 of the 199 anti-poaching camps of the national park.

Parveen Kaswan, member of the Indian Forest Service has shared some live videos recorded on the spot showing the plight of the wild animals in the forests.

Highest casualty is suffered by hog deer, one of smallest deer species. So far 101 hog deer have died, of which 71 due to drowning, 15 due to vehicle hit, 10 due to exhaustion and injuries and five during treatment. Environment Minister Parimal Shukla said: “About 162 wild animals have lost their lives in the floods.” 

Despite the rescue operation, many animals have lost their lives including, eight lion cubs, bears, and buffaloes.  So far, 64 animals have been rescued in Kaziranga, including 53 hog deers, two rhinos, one elephant, one sambar, two swamp deers, and other reptiles and birds.

Exhibiting the plight of the situation in the area, an adult female tiger was seen resting on a bed inside a shop in Bagori range, in the western part of Kaziranga. The tiger was attempting a cross-over to higher patches of the Karbi hills as the water level went up.

Source: ANI

Steps by the State Government

A blog on the website of Kaziranga National Park states that the State Government has been quite helpful in the massive outbreak of the monsoon.

  • Approx 83,000 people evacuated from flooded areas and have been accommodated to 183 relief camps across the state.
  • 15 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams comprising 38 divers, 48 IRB boats have been deployed to leave no stone unturned for the rescue operation in the flood-affected areas of Assam. The state health department along with veterinary and animal husbandry has also been instructed to address the medical issues arising due to the natural disaster.

Why is flood an annual calamity of Assam?

Assam witnesses heavy erosion of the banks around the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers. It is estimated that annually nearly 8000 hectares land is lost to erosion. Bank erosion has also affected the width of the Brahmaputra river, which has increased up to 15 km.

Source: Financial Express

Landslides and Earthquakes around the region also contribute to the floods. Assam and some other parts of the northeastern region are prone to frequent earthquakes, which causes landslides. The landslides and earthquakes send in a lot of debris in the rivers, causing the river bed to rise.

Source: IANS

Dams have always been a major factor for the apathy of Assam. With the boom in the construction of dams in the Himalayan states of Northeast like Arunachal, the state of Assam might witness more floods in near-future.  Unregulated release of water from the higher areas lead to floods the Assam plains, leaving thousands of people homeless every year.

Not Just the Kaziranga!

While Kaziranga’s plight is deservedly getting a lot of attention, there is not much noise on the condition of some of the other major protected forests of Assam like Orang, Manas, Pobitora and Dibru Saikhowa.

Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, known for having one of the highest densities of one-horned rhinoceros in the world, is also reeling under floods. It is located in Morigaon, which is one of the worst flood-hit districts this year. A report suggests that 95 percent of the sanctuary is submerged.

Harshita Malik
Harshita Malik

Trained in journalism, fights for gender and human rights issues. Open to talks and criticism. Believes in individual wishes and opinions. A mediocre reader of non-fiction.

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