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Kaziranga using drones to monitor flood-affected animals

The Hindu
9 Jul 2017

With over 50% of the Kaziranga National Park in Assam submerged by flood waters, the park authorities have flown in drones to ensure security of animals in the park, particularly the famed one-horned rhinoceros.

Two drones have been engaged to enhance the vigil and monitor the movement of animals, most of whom are now migrating to the nearby hills in Karbi Anglong district, park director Satyendra Prasad Singh told IANS on Sunday.

“The two drones can fly up to the elevation of 2,000 feet and can capture visuals of five km radius. They can fly for half-an-hour at a stretch. We are using the drones to track the movement of animals due to the current floods in the park...and take precautionary measures for their safety,” he said.

Mr. Singh said that the drones have been hired from police administration of Golaghat district.

“As of now about 50% of the park areas have been submerged. It is not a high flood situation and there is no food crisis for the animals inside the park,” he said.

He said that some animals, however, have started to migrate towards the Karbi Anglong Hills crossing the National Highway-37.

“It is a routine migration process. There are some highlands inside the Kaziranga National Park where the animals take shelter during floods. However, some animals like the deer and elephants migrate to the higher grounds in Karbi Anglong during floods,” he said.

The annual floods assume significance for the ecology of the national park. Although it causes woes for the animals, the park needs to be flooded every year as floods wash away the unwanted weeds and it is very vital for the ecosystem of the park, say experts.

“We have also put a speed restriction on vehicles plying on National Highway-37 that bifurcates the park, particularly during night, so that the distressed animals who try to cross the highway in order to get to the neighbouring Karbi Anglong Hills are not knocked down by speeding vehicles,” the park director said.

“The speed limit is restricted to 40 km per hour on this stretch of the national highway. The forest guards give time-cards to vehicles upon entry and those are checked on exit and violators are fined up to ?5,000 if they are found to have violated the speed limit,” he said.