Plea to focus on other species also at Kaziranga

Guwahati, Dec. 20: Kaziranga belongs not only to the rhinos but to other species, too.

This is the direction the Wildlife Institute of India has asked the national park authorities to take, paying greater attention to the conservation of tigers and other species.

The institute, in a report on the management effectiveness evaluation of tiger reserves in the country, said the management of Kaziranga tiger reserve was largely rhino-centric and all the attention, efforts and publicity were aimed only at rhinos.

“The management should pay greater attention to the conservation of tigers and other species. Steps should be initiated to monitor the habitat and population of important species of animals and birds,” it said. 

The report added that the population estimate of wildlife should include the prey base of tigers and other important species such as the Bengal florican.

Kaziranga tiger reserve has an abundance of mega-herbivore species, with the largest rhino and wild buffalo population in the country. 

It also boasts the only large population of the eastern swamp deer and supports large populations of 25 globally important and 23 threatened birds. The wetlands support a large population of migratory birds like the bar-headed geese and ruddy shell duck. It supports 17 of the 23 turtle species found in the country.

It is a Unesco World Heritage Site with one of the highest density of tigers and was declared a tiger reserve in 2007.

The report, while comparing tiger reserves in the Northeast, said while Kaziranga tiger reserve has moved down from very good to good, others have held on to their status. Manas tiger reserve has retained its good status, Namdapha its fair, Dampa its good, Nameri its fair and Pakke its good status. The last exercise was carried out in 2010.

Pointing out to the management weaknesses in Kaziranga, it said the corridors have not been properly identified and secured for migration of animals during floods.

Tourism activity is mostly confined to one area of the park, exerting heavy pressure on it. The activity is controlled by big business groups only, leaving a gap between the local populace and the management. 

The tourist lodges and hotels along the national highway should be regulated and checks should be maintained on them for undesirable elements, the report said.

“The anti-poaching camps should be improved and there should be a rotational policy for the staff so that every member gains experience and no continuous hardship is caused,” it said.

On the manpower position, employees selected for posts in Kaziranga have been transferred elsewhere for their convenience, causing a serious shortage of frontline staff and compromising the security of the park.

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