GUWAHATI, Sept 16 - Keeping the animal corridors between Kaziranga National Park (KNP) and Karbi Anglong hills free and ensuring hassle-free movement of the KNP wild animals between the National Park and the hilly landscape of Karbi Anglong has emerged as a challenge for the officials of the State Forest Department. Every year, this challenge is becoming acute for the Forest officials.
The Forest officials have been making repeated pleas to the authorities concerned to take stern measures in keeping these animal corridors free from any obstruction so that wild animals of the National Park can freely move between the National Park and Karbi Anglong hills during floods, but to no avail.
During the last wave of floods, movement of KNP animals between the National Park and Karbi Anglong hills started immediately after July 13. On the following day when almost 70 per cent of KNP was inundated and the roads inside it became inaccessible, most of the marooned denizens, specially hog deer, elephants, wild boar and swamp deer started migrating towards the Karbi Anglong hills by crossing NH-37. The movement of wild animals between KNP and Karbi Anglong hills continued, evidently in large groups, till July 23.
During this period, many wild animals got knocked down by fast-moving vehicles over NH-37, which is also the Asian Highway-1.
It was observed, said the Bokakhat-based Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Eastern Assam Wildlife Division vide letter No. A-WLG/Flood/2930 dated August 9, 2019 to the Director of KNP, the movement of wild animals is largely hindered by the linear developments along NH-37 which passes along KNP and specially on the animal corridors.
Commercial establishments like resorts, hotels, dhabas and eateries along NH-37 have posed as a physical barrier and obviously prevented movement of the park animals.
Mushrooming of such commercial establishments is also giving rise to illegal parking of heavy vehicles along NH-37 in this stretch, thereby adding to the problems faced by the wild animals in their movement between the National Park and Karbi Anglong hills. A majority of the unregulated parking can be seen in areas between Harmoti and Bagori.
The July 18 last incident of a stray tigress entering the house of a person in Harmoti area is also believed to be the result of the absence of free passage of the Kaziranga animals towards Karbi Anglong hills.
The movement of animals between KNP and Karbi Anglong hills is also largely hindered by the movement of vehicular traffic on NH-37. Despite imposition of speed restrictions, continuous movement of huge volume of traffic on the highway hinders free movement of animals.
The death toll of wild animals on the highway during the latest flood season between July 13 and August 3 due to vehicular hits is also believed to be understated. Many cases of death of small mammals and reptiles on the highway went unnoticed and hence was not reported.
Human habitation on the animal corridors and tea gardens in the adjoining areas have also been causing hindrance to the free movement of the wild animals and giving rise to human-animal conflict.
Moreover, crowds on the highway willing to witness animals crossing the highway and to click photographs are also increasing the stress on the wild animals.
Therefore, the DFO sought strong steps to address all these problems expeditiously.