The incessant rains in India have begun to flood wildlife sanctuaries, threatening the wild animals. Rising water levels have forced many creatures to abandon the safety of the preserves and seek dry grounds.
The persistent monsoons currently lashing India have caused heavy flooding in many regions. While the rains threaten the human population each year, the torrential downpour has begun to endanger the already threatened wildlife. The northern parts of the Indian subcontinent appear to be bearing the worst of the monsoons, with floodwaters submerging nearly the entire wildlife preserves and forcing the poor creatures into human settlements while looking for dry grounds.
India’s wildlife authorities maintaining the Kaziranga National Park in India’s northeastern state of Assam have almost no dry land to steer their wildlife that lives in the region. More than 80 percent of the park, sprawled over 430 sq. km., is currently submerged under rainwater, reported Reuters. With the rains showing no signs of letting up, coupled with the floodwater that has nowhere to go, the park’s animals are now under serious threat of drowning.
Kaziranga National Park, a World Heritage Site, is home to the world’s largest population of the one-horned rhinoceros. The park houses the world’s two-thirds of the entire one-horned rhino population and as such is a critical sanctuary for the species. However, due to the continuously rising floods, these animals have now taken the dangerous decision of abandoning the wildlife park and seeking higher ground by themselves.
The rhinos have been spotted attempting to cross busy highways and roads that are frequented by trucks and other heavy vehicles. These creatures are risking head-on collisions with vehicles just to get away from the rising floods. Six baby rhinos have been rescued since the floods began last week, said Rathin Barman, an official at a wildlife research and conservation center in Kaziranga, reported The Guardian.
Animals from the country’s other national parks have also begun to flee their habitats in order to escape the rising floodwaters. India has four large wildlife sanctuaries that house some of the rarest and extremely endangered species. However, the ongoing monsoon is threatening to wipe out dozens, if not hundreds, of these creatures. Owing to acute shortage of funds and equipment, the animals continue to remain stranded, and as such, are completely at the mercy of the elements, said some local officials. While rescue efforts are underway, the strong currents of flowing rainwater is posing problems and delaying the rescue, further endangering the animals.
Officials stress that none of the rhinos housed in the national park have died or killed in the floods, but contradictory reports indicate at least one baby rhino drowned in the floods.
Weather forecasters have predicted at least two to three days of heavy downpours and added the monsoons will continue to wreak havoc. Wildlife officials have stressed they are seriously understaffed and inadequately equipped with the current situation and will not be able to save all the animals if the floodwaters continue to rise.
Fortunately, most of the national parks do not have extensive fencing. Hence the creatures can make a break for it. But such escapades are fraught with life-threatening risks. So far, 20 deer and some wild buffaloes have died after leaving the sanctuary to seek dry land. Majority of the animals died after they were hit by vehicles on the highway. The lack of indicators and warning signs, coupled with speeding motorists on long stretches of roads, have only made the matters worse.
So far, almost 2 million people have been affected by the monsoons and the local governments are struggling to offer them the basic essentials. During such a crisis, the animals are finding themselves increasingly stranded.
[Photo by Nitin Kanotra/Hindustan Times/Getty Images]