Assam Flood and Kaziranga’s Ecosystem
Flood in Assam is frequent and a cause of devastating impact on biosphere.
Kaziranga National Park:
• It is a UNESCO world heritage site, and famous for the Great Indian one horned rhinoceros.
• The landscape of Kaziranga is of sheer forest, tall elephant grass, rugged reeds, marshes & shallow pools.
• The great Indian rhinoceros, falls under ‘vulnerable category’ in the IUCN Red List. It is in high demand globally due to its single horn. Habitat loss is the other major threat to rhino populations.
Role of floods in Kaziranga’s Ecosystem
• Assam is traditionally a flood prone region — sandwiched between the Brahmaputra River and the KarbiAnglong Hills. (NH-37 bifurcated park from KarbiAnglong Hills).
• Floods are necessary for Kaziranga by virtue of its ecosystem. It is a riverine ecosystem, not based on solid landmass. It won’t survive without water. Kaziranga is formed by alluvial deposits from the Brahmaputra.
• The regenerative nature of floods helps replenish Kaziranga’s water bodies and maintain its landscape, a mix of wetlands, grasslands and semi-evergreen deciduous forests.
• The floodwaters also function as a breeding ground for fish, which are carried away by the receding waters into the Brahmaputra, the park replenishes the river’s stock of fish too.
• Flood helps get rid of unwanted plants such as water hyacinth which collect in huge masses in the landscape.
• In herbivore-dominated area like Kaziranga, it is important to maintain its grassland status. If it were not for the annual floods, the area would become a woodland.
Impacts of Floods on wildlife and fringe villages
Villages on the southern periphery of the park are affected by the floods. Fleeing floodwaters, animals stray from the boundary of the park, and there is an increased interaction between humans and wildlife, at times leading to conflict.
Animals also affected due to short term distress on habitat. For Instance—Rhino calves get separated from their mothers, tigers swim and take refuge inside homes, deer amble into villages.
When the flood water hits a certain level, the animal moves towards safer places, higher ground in the KarbiAnglong hills. However, animal have to cross NH-37 which cuts across the park, thatleads to the killing of animals in road accidents.
During the flood,villagers guide strayed animals to safer ground.
To mitigate the threat of floods and animal fatalities following arrangement can be inducted-
Embankments of river and de-salinization of river to avert issue of excess water.
NGOs and local communities can work together to tackle the floods.
To avoid epidemics a door-to-door vaccination can be organised before the floods.
When the floods hit, sec. 144 of Cr.P.C can be imposed along NH-37, speed limits should be enforced to minimize the possibility of human-animal conflict.
PEPPER IT WITH
National Parks, Wildlife protection act, Elephant corridor