Heritage Sites - Kaziranga National Park (1985), Assam India
- "Paradise of One horn Rhinos" Mornings in the Kaziranga National
Park in the northeastern state of Assam are generally misty. So much so
that the main gate of the Park is called kohra, or mist. As the sun rises
slowly above the horizon, the area metamorphoses into a spectacular sight.
The tall, dense, lush green elephant grass wrapped in the haze makes the
first impact on the visitor. As the sun slices through the mist, shallow
swamps interspersed with large patches of semi evergreen forests emerge
gradually. Not far from the place, India's most notorious river Brahmaputra
flows effortlessly, unmindful of the havoc it is capable of wreaking during
is the time of high animal activity in Kaziranga. A flock of Rosy Pelicans
glides across a water body in search of a suitable place to hunt. A couple
of otters lift their heads curiously to scan the jungle. Suddenly, a small
herd of hog deer disappears to a shrill alarm call. There is certainly
a predator on the move. Any casual movement in the elephant grass could
mean a tiger, a rhino or even a wild buffalo.
This is Kaziranga
National Park, where more than half of the world's population of one-horned
rhinoceros can be found. The Park boasts of the highest density of tiger
population (nearly seventeen animals in every hundred square kilometers).
Kaziranga can also
be called the National Park of Giants. Name any Indian species that is
large in size and you are likely to find it here. Elephants, rhinos, wild
buffaloes, gaurs, tigers, swamp deer, sambar deer; Kaziranga has it all.
While we are still on Kaziranga, the hoolock gibbon deserves a special
mention. This tailless ape is found in the hill forests of Assam.
also has a commendable population of birds. One can find huge flocks of
pelicans, rose-ringed parakeets apart from crested serpent eagles, grey-headed
fishing eagles, red jungle fowl, Bengal floricabs, bar-headed geese, whistling
teals and swamp partridges. The commonly found storks are black-necked,
adjutant and open-billed. Egrets and herons of almost all types can be
spotted sitting on the peripheries of water bodies fed by the Brahmaputra.
river that pumps life into Kaziranga also snatches it away sometime. Every
year during the monsoon, the entire area is submerged in the floodwaters
of the Brahmaputra. Ironically, the river whose literal meaning in Hindi
is 'the son of Lord Brahma - the Preserver of the Universe', swallows
around a thousand hog deer and many other wildlife species during the
floods. At this time, all the wildlife is forced to take shelter on island
like places including the watchtowers, made for forest guards, that can
survives the ravages of the floods. These towers are infested with snakes
during these months. But what is even more amazing is that these snakes
and guards live together in harmony, respecting each others right to live.
Each tower has a small
sanctum sanctorum dedicated to Devi Durga, who is believed to be the saviour
of the jungle. Everyday, before going out on patrol, the guards invoke
the Devi to help them guard the jungle from poachers who, unfortunately,
are equipped with better firearms. The rate of poaching and deforestation
in the northeastern states of India is much higher than in other parts
of the country. Each year, a number of forest-guards in Kaziranga National
Park in India lose their lives in unending battles with poachers.
main reason for these conflicts in Kaziranga National Park in India is
the rhino. There are more than 1200 rhinos in the Park. It is believed
that the rhino-horn (actually a massive overgrowth of hair) has unique
medicinal and aphrodisiac properties. A rhino-horn can fetch as much as
5,000 U.S. Dollars in the international market. It is in great demand
with Chinese and ancient Indian medicine practitioners. The rhino's blood
and flesh is considered to possess magical qualities and even its urine
is used as an antiseptic. No doubt, poachers see the rhino as an easy
source of income and 'power'.
The rhino is an animal
of definite habits. It seldom ventures out of its territories, uses the
same trails to commute, and even defecates at the same spot most of the
time. After observing the rhino for days, hunters dig a pit big enough
to accommodate the animal on its route and cover it with leaves. Unaware
of the conspiracy, the rhino falls into the pit and is killed.
Tigers pose another
major threat to rhinos. Despite the mother's strict vigilance, rhino cubs
often fall prey to tigers. But instances of tigers getting seriously injured
in the process have also come to light.
Once Kaziranga National
Park was an easy ground for the shikar parties of Rajas and Maharajas
(one of the Ranas from Nepal killed 97 Rhinos in a month!). Their hide
made excellent shields and their body parts were used by royal 'hakims',
or doctors to make aphrodisiac. But when the rhino population dwindled
to a mere twelve in 1908, the authorities introduced stringent laws to
save the species. In 1926, the area was declared a reserve forest and
was closed for hunting. For the next twelve years, Kaziranga enjoyed being
at an arm's length from human beings. It was during this time that the
Park was rejuvenated and grew into a healthy forest. In 1938, the area
was thrown open to tourists once again.
Kaziranga National Park in India is one of the biggest success stories
of wildlife protection in the country. From twelve rhinos in 1908, Kaziranga
had a whopping rhino population of 1200 by the turn of the century. However,
the outer limit that the Park can sustain is 500. The lack of space and
grazing area leads to serious conflicts amongst the rhinos and it is not
uncommon to come across badly injured bulls in the Park. Nevertheless,
the forest department is relocating rhinos to other National Parks in
The best month to
visit Kaziranga National Park in India is December, when the bird population
touches a peak. Elephants are the best way to commute in the jungle. Jeep
can also be hired from the office of forest department, but it restricts
movement to the trails.
How to Reach
By Air : Johrat is the nearest Airport and it is well connected
with Daily flight with Guwahati (Capital) city of Assam State and Guwahati
is well connected with Delhi and Kolkata.
By Rail : Johrat is the nearest
By Road : Frequent Buses are
available from Guwahati
UNESCO Heritage Monuments in India
National Parks of India