Situated in Assam… a place to visit
(Dr. Shankar Chatterjee)
Kaziranga National Park is an important tourist place as one-horned rhinos can be seen in plenty along with other animals and birds. The Park is popular in the world also as it was declared UNESCO’s natural World Heritage site in 1985. To reach Kaziranga, one can go up to Guwahati by train or by air, and then a taxi can be hired. It will take around five hours to reach the place (Golaghat district) and a good number of hotels are located there.
Kaziranga National Park is spread over an area of 430 square kilometres, elephant-grass meadows, swampy lagoons, and dense forests is home to more than 2400 Indian one-horned rhinoceros, approximately 2/3rd of their total world population. It was nurtured in 1908 on the recommendation of Mary Curzon; the Park is located on the edge of the Eastern Himalayan biodiversity hotspots. As mentioned already, in 1985, the Park has declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is said when Mary Curzon, the wife of the Viceroy of India – Lord Curzon of Kedleston, visited the Park to see Indian one-horned rhinoceros; she wasn’t able to find even one. Then she persuaded her husband to take urgent measures to protect the dwindling pachyderm which Lord Curzon did for their protection. After a series of meetings and documentation, the Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest was created (www.kaziranga-national-park.com).
I have the opportunity to visit many reserved forests in India and abroad but I feel Kaziranga is one of the best forest National Parks. Its pristine beauty with animals like one-horned rhino, elephant, boar, different varieties of deer, wild buffalo, tortoise, also different types of birds, can be seen in plenty of numbers. On December 15 and 16 I had the opportunity to visit the Western Zone and Central Zone of Kaziranga National Park. I along with my wife, driver of the jeep, and a security guard visited the place with a jeep known as ‘jeep safari’. Of course ‘elephant safari’ was also available but we preferred jeep safari. The pristine beauties of the forest along with a small river and a lot of natural water bodies have mesmerized us. Few experiences I wish to mention: when we were going with the jeep and about 10 other jeeps were on the same route, we observed one rhino with a calf passing through the road so we had to wait about 15 minutes. This wonderful view with natural forest can never be seen in a normal way. The second interesting case was when one big elephant with two big trunks was standing on the forest road, as a sequel all the jeeps (about 10) had to wait for about 40 minutes. During this time, the driver told us not to shout or to make any sound as sometimes sound irrigates the pachyderm. Also, we have seen an eagle nest which is located at the top of a tree. I was told male and female eagles build the nest together. Another interesting visit was a tree where tigers sharpen their claws. It is believed only in bishop wood trees, tigers sharpen their claws.
The data collected from the Kaziranga National Park during the time of the visit are presented here. The total number of rhinos in the park according to the 2018 estimation was 2413. The number of Royal Bengal tigers as per the 2018 estimate was 111. The total number of Eastern swamp deer was 907 (in 2018). According to the 2017 estimate, Asiatic elephants were 1089. The total number of Asiatic wild buffaloes as of 2007 was 1937. In addition, 553 species of birds and more than 550 plant species can be found at Kaziranga.
I suggest the readers visit the place to enjoy the natural beauty. The hospitality of the local people is awesome. One can enjoy local foods – vegetarian and non -vegetarian. And plenty of products made of cane and bamboo are available for sale costing from Rs. 20 and above. Thanks to Thomas Cook for organizing the tour in a meticulous way. (Author is Former Professor & Head (CPME) NIRD &PR, Hyderabad)
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