AN EXPERT team which visited Kaziranga National Park in Assam to assess the damage caused by floods reported that nearly 1,070 animals died due to starvation or were washed away. The floods led to the death of 40 one-horned rhinos, seven elephants, 983 hog deers, 19 wild boars, 13 sambhars and eight swamp deers. However, the toll is much less than the 1988 floods, which claimed two tigers among many other animals. The park director, B S Bonal, admitted that the toll was on the higher side, yet the one-horned rhino population will recover soon as they are prolific breeders. At present there are nearly 1,200 rhinos inhabiting the park.
The loss to the park has been estimated to be over Rs 2 crore. The environment ministry has released Rs 58 lakh for the park while Rs 50 lakh is lying underutilised from last year. The immediate need is to begin the restoration work, says Bonal. He believes that watchtowers, motorable roads and high mounds have to be reconstructed to ensure the safety of the animals.