Even as the monsoons continue to devastate South Asia, the floods in Assam have reportedly led to 90 percent of the Kaziranga National Park submerging underwater. The World Heritage Site, which covers a surface area of 430 sq km, has been submerged for the last few days. The park is currently home to the highest number of Indian one-horned rhinoceroses, Asiatic water buffaloes and Eastern Swamp Deer, and also houses other animals like tigers, elephants and wild boars. The floods have taken such a heavy toll on the animals that many are crossing over into the highlands and human-inhabited areas to save themselves.
Their path to safety also has the hurdle of the 60-km long NH37 highway, which runs along the southern fringe of the park and has a reputation of having animals being injured or killed after being hit by vehicles while crossing over. While death toll reports during the floods vary, according to The Indian Express, the casualty is 51 right now.
Authorities have now blocked certain passages to this road and imposed a speed limit on vehicles as well.
The local government authorities have told the media that they have built 33 highlands and deployed over 100 officials to help save the affected animals. “However, not every animal use highlands. They are mainly used by rhinos and hog deers. Elephants and tigers mostly avoid it. In fact, a tiger has been spotted taking shelter on the rooftop of a house in Moabari,” Dr Bhaskar Choudhury, a veterinarian working for the Wildlife Trust of India told The Indian Express.
Central agencies like the National Disaster Response Force have now joined hands with local authorities' rescue efforts, and videos of rhinos being rescued have surfaced online.
But as local politicians have pointed out, it is a “survival of the fittest”, with animals in good health being the ones who will be able to make it to higher levels safely.
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