Guwahati, Oct 29 IANS | 9 months ago

Assam's world-famous Kaziranga National Park will begin welcoming tourists from Friday and remain open till the end of next April, an official said.


"We have almost finished the repair works and everything will be ready by the end of this month," park dirctor N.K. Basu told IANS, adding that all the four ranges - Bagori, Burhapahar, Kohora and Agaratoli - will be opened for tourists on Monday and closed on May 1 due to the rainy season.

"Like every year, we are going to introduce jeep safaris and elephant safaris in all the ranges of the park," said another senior official, adding that almost all the accommodation facilities in the park's vicinity have registered almost full occupancy for November.

Located about 250 km from Assam's main city Guwahati, the park is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the state to its one-horned rhinos. Spread over 800 sq km, the park also has a significant population of three other large herbivores - the Asian elephant, the Asiatic water buffalo and the eastern sub-species of the swamp deer.

A Unesco World Heritage Site, the Kaziranga National Park was declared a tiger reserve in 2006 and is recognized as an "important bird area" by Birdlife International that seeks to conserve all bird species on earth and their habitats.

Statistics with the park authority reveal that the park attracted over 100,000 visotors last year, including close to 16,000 foreigners.

The park has been in news for all the wrong reasons in the last two years due to the sudden spate of rhino poaching. While over 30 rhinos were killed in and around the park last year, 23 rhinos have been killed since January.

This has prompted the Assam government to take several steps to stop the poaching like creating a sophisticated Assam Forest Protection Force (AFPF) and arming it with AK-series automatic rifles.

The state government recently obtained permission from the union environment and forests ministry to install thermal cameras inside the park to monitor and detect the movement of poachers.

(Posted on 29-10-2013)