Rangers guide three tigers out of Kaziranga National Park

A tiger tries to reach higher ground in the flooded Kaziranga National Park. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The big cats get disoriented by flood waters and human structures along their paths.

The tiger can feel helpless too.Wildlife officials and rescue workers at the flooded Kaziranga National Park (KNP) had to provide a “safe passage” for three tigers in less than two days, guiding them to the relative safety of the hills beyond a highway along the southern edge of the park.Home to more than 55% of the one-horned rhinos on earth, the KNP has a core area of 430 It is also a tiger reserve covering 1,055 and has an estimated 121 tigers. “Two tigers swam out to Baghmari village on the outskirts of the western range of the KNP. One was directed towards Karbi Anglong and reached safely, the other disturbed by dogs in the village rested beside the highway before it was also guided to the forest in the hills,” said P. Sivakumar, the park’s director.Animals use nine major and several minor corridors between the KNP and the hills of Karbi Anglong to escape floods during the monsoon and return when the waters subside.About 95% of the park has been flooded this year, with 173 of the 223 anti-poaching camps inundated. So far, 51 animals have been killed and 102 rescued during two waves of flood since May 22. A majority of the animals either drowned or were hit by vehicles while crossing the highway. The rescued animals include a rhino and a tiger.“Like most animals, the tiger too is able to find its way to the hills. But some lose their sense of direction when there are barriers in the corridors,” Mr. Sivakumar said.

A tiger tries to reach higher ground in the flooded Kaziranga National Park. Photo: Special Arrangement  
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Many houses, resorts, roadside eateries and other structures have come up over the years on the corridors that are beyond the KNP but within the eco-sensitive zone that is yet to be specified. Among the newest such structures is a resort being built on the Kanchanjuri animal corridor allegedly by an MLA of the ruling alliance in Assam.Apart from keeping the dogs at bay, KNP officials and rescue workers of the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) had to prevent agitated and overenthusiastic people from disturbing the exhausted and disoriented tigers escaping the floods.On Monday, an operation to guide a sub-adult male tiger to safety took 11 hours. It came out of the park and took shelter in a goatshed at Kandolimari village. “The tiger was disturbed by human activities. We waited patiently to let it rest and regain its strength while making the villagers understand they need to give the striped cat some space,” said Sanshul Ali, a rehabilitation veterinarian.Forest officials and the CWRC team guided the tiger, which emerged from the goatshed after sunset, toward the Karbi Anglong hills.

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