A recent report suggests that Kaziranga National Park is at a high risk of losing any connectivity with the adjoining Karbi Anglong landscape. The Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve(KNP and KTR), situated between the Brahmaputra river and the Karbi Anglong hills, together make up the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Landscape – home to 2413 rhinos, 1100 elephants and 104 tigers. The animals of the national park take refuge in the Karbi Anglong hills during the monsoon when the Brahmaputra floods the Kaziranga National Park(KNP) area. The National Tiger Convention Authority(NTCA) has directed the Assam government to put an immediate stop to all mining, stone quarrying activities and stone crusher operations in the foothills of the Karbi Anglong hills and within a 10 km radius of the tiger reserve. The NTCA has placed the blame directly on the “stone mining/quarrying and stone crushers established in the intervening area” between Kaziranga and Karbi Anglong hills for “destruction of wildlife corridors and vital wildlife habitat which is essential for long-ranging species like Indian elephant and tigers.” These indiscriminate and unscientific mining/quarrying actions are responsible for the heavy silt deposits and drying up of the many small rivulets and streams flowing from Karbi Anglong to Kaziranga. Apart from the issue of illegal mining, Kaziranga also faces the natural threat of floods during the annual monsoon, with the Brahmaputra continuously eroding the northern and eastern bank of the Kaziranga core area. While the rhino population in KTR is flourishing, the suitable area for each of the reserve’s inhabitants, be that the rhinos, or elephants, or even swamp deer or water buffalo, is decreasing steadily. The result of this habitat loss is seen in frequent elephant invasions in the adjoining human settlements. The NTCA has asked the Assam government to prepare a proper Tiger Conservation Plan for the core, buffer and corridor areas of the reserve and notify the eco-sensitive zones around KNP and KTR. The report also suggested that the Kaziranga Tiger Reserve boundary may be rationalised by including areas of Karbi-Anglong adjoining Kaziranga.
—— As reported by Mongabay
Cover Pic: Stone mining/ quarrying and stone crushers established in the intervening area between Kaziranga and Karbi Anglong hills are destroying wildlife corridors. Photo by Rohit Choudhury.