In receding mode, Assam floods kill more animals

Two days of sunshine reduce the number of affected people by more than 4 lakh

Two days of sunshine provided some relief to flood-affected people in Assam, not so for the animals in the Kaziranga National Park.

The water level at the one-horned rhino habitat receded over the past 24 hours. An update by the park authorities on Wednesday morning said 107 of the total of 223 anti-poaching camps were inundated, 36 fewer than on June 30.

But the number of animals killed went up from 14 to 18. These included the first drowning victims of this year’s flood — a swamp deer and a wild boar.

While eight hog deer — one after treatment at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) at Kaziranga — died of vehicle hits, six hog deer died of unspecified reasons and a rhino died of natural causes. A hog deer injured due to flooding died at the CWRC.

Three animals are under treatment at the CWRC, which released 20 others after minor treatment. Most of these animals were rescued by forest officials and local people, who have had a history of creating space in their backyards for animals in flood-related distress.

“Speeding of vehicles on the highway continues to be a problem despite security checks and time cards requiring drivers to cover the entire stretch alongside the southern edge of the park within a specified time,” a Kaziranga official said, adding that more than 650 vehicles were found violating the speed limit of 40 km per hour.

Animals fleeing a flooded Kaziranga, which has a core area of 430 sq km, have to cross the highway for the relative safety of the hills in Karbi Anglong district. Many get run over by vehicles, particularly at nine major animal corridors besides a few ‘hatidondi’, or pathways for elephants.

‘23,515 people in relief camps’

The number of flood-affected people dropped overnight by more than 4 lakh to 10.89 lakh on July 1 morning. Officials of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said almost 2,000 people moved out the relief camps across the flood-hit States.

“We have 23,515 people in 122 relief camps now. More are expected to return to their villages if the situation improves,” an ASDMA spokesperson said.

The Brahmaputra and some of its major tributaries, however, continued to flow above the danger level at several stretches.

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