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Kaziranga National Park

One of the newly declared tiger reserves, Kaziranga National Park located in Assam, has over 118 royal Bengal tigers and became a tiger reserve in 2006. Despite housing a large number of royal Bengal tigers, they aren’t Kaziranga’s primary attraction. That title goes to its healthy and growing population of Indian one-horned rhinoceros. Based on the latest census conducted by Assam’s forest department, there are 2,413 rhinoceros in the park.

In 1905, the rhino population of the park stood at 12 individuals. Since then, thanks to conservation efforts, the numbers have steadily grown to their current numbers. We’ll take a look at the park’s history, but before that, let’s focus on the annual floods in Kaziranga National Park.

Kaziranga Annual Floods

When the park floods, its residents move north towards the hills for shelter. As they try to get out of the floodplains, several are left stranded while others end up as roadkills. Despite the loss of wildlife, the annual floods are essential to the survival of Kaziranga’s ecosystem. Kaziranga’s annual flood cycle revitalizes the wetlands, taking away the toxins and leaving behind fertile land. Once the Bhramaputra recedes, Kaziranga is reborn.

The History‌ ‌of‌ Kaziranga National Park

  • 1904: When word about Kaziranga’s abundant one-horned rhinoceros reached Mary Curzon, the baroness Curzon of Kedleston, she and her husband Lord Curzon of Kedleston visited the region. But by the time they visited the park, the rhinoceros population had badly suffered, and they were unable to see even a single rhino. Moved by their plight, Mary persuaded her husband to take measures to protect the dwindling species.
  • 1905: Following the appeal made by Lord Curzon of Kedleston, an area of 231.78 square kilometres was declared as the proposed Kaziranga Reserve Forest.
  • 1908: After two years, the proposed Kaziranga forest region was formally proclaimed as the reserve forest. But there were no rules to prohibit hunting or shooting wildlife.
  • 1916: The Kaziranga Forest Reserve was turned into a game sanctuary. However, within its borders, hunting was still allowed.
  • 1926: Hunting was prohibited within the Kaziranga Forest Reserve.
  • 1938: The Kaziranga Forest Reserve was opened to visitors.
  • 1950: Kaziranga Forest reserve became a wildlife sanctuary.
  • 1954: The Assam government passed a bill prohibiting the hunting of Indian rhinoceros.
  • 1968: When the Assam National Park Act was passed in 1968, Kaziranga was proclaimed as a national park.
  • 1973: The annual floods on the Brahmaputra river led to the death of several animals.
  • 1974: A 429.03 square kilometres floodplain was proclaimed as Kaziranga National Park on 11th February 1974. It was Assam’s first national park.

Kaziranga Expansions Between 1977-1999

Expansion No.DateArea in Square kilometres
128th May 1977 43.79
231st May 1985 0.69
313th June 1958 1.15
410th July 1985 6.47
53rd August 1988 0.89
67th August 1999 376.50

During the period, Kaziranga also took over the two forest reserves, Kukurakata’s 16 square kilometres and Panbari’s 8 square kilometres.

  • 1985: Kaziranga National Park was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage.
  • 1988: The region was flooded again, causing around 70% of the park to submerge underwater. The lives lost include 1,056 deer, 69 wild boars, 38 rhinoceros, three baby elephants, two Bengal tigers, and several smaller species.
  • 1996: This time around, the floods led to the death of 44 rhinos.
  • 1998: Another flood caused the death of 652 animals.
  • 2018: Kaziranga National Park has 2413 rhinoceros.
  • 2020: On 4th September 2020, the government approved another addition of 30.53 square kilometres, further expanding the park region.
  • 2021: Kaziranga National Park has 118 royal Bengal tigers.

Wildlife in Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga is not only home to the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceros, but it also has an abundant population of Indian elephants, Asiatic water buffaloes, and easter swamp deer. Other significant herbivores in the regions include sambar, guar, hog deer, Indian muntjac, and wild boar.

Amongst the big cats are a large number of royal Bengal tigers, Indian leopards, and the elusive wild cat species – the clouded leopard. Other predators in the park are golden jackals, Bengal fox, leopard cat, fishing cat, and jungle cats.

With over 478 species of birds, Kaziranga National Park is one of India’s premium bird-watching destinations. Kaziranga’s ecosystem hosts a large number of raptors, such as the greater spotted eagle, eastern imperial eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, Pallas fish eagle, white-tailed and fishing eagle. Pigeons, bustards, partridges, thrushes, weaver birds, and hornbills are rare species found in Kaziranga.

Kaziranga National Park Premier Attractions

  • Kaziranga National Orchid Park: Located half an hour away from the Kaziranga National Park, this orchid and biodiversity park boasts 500 varieties of wild orchids and 132 species of leafy vegetables and sour fruits. A botanical attraction, it is also known as the largest orchid park in India. It also has 46 species of bamboo and several distinct species of plants and trees.
  • Kakochang Waterfall: Just an hour away from Kaziranga is the stunning Kakochang waterfall. The gushing waterfall pours into a pool of its inviting crystal clear waters. Its surrounding tea plantations enhance the mystical and serene ambience created by Kakochange. Visitors are allowed to plunge into the crystal waters as they take in the surrounding views, but will have to trek at least 3.5 kilometres to reach this slice of heaven.
  • Tea Gardens of Kaziranga: One of Assam’s primary attractions are the tea plantations. The tea estates such as Dipholoo, Hatikhuli, and Methoni are private properties, which do not offer guided tours, although visitors can certainly go to these plantations by themselves and walk through them. One closest to Kaziranga is Hathikhuli followed by the Tocklai Research Centre. It is a 2-hour drive away from the park. To visit Tocklai, visitors might have to get prior permission before visiting the research centre.
  • Spotting Gangetic Dolphins on the Brahmaputra River: Bhumuraguri village, located near Kaziranga National Park, is the best place to spot river dolphins. Once in town, visitors can board a cruise or boat and traverse the waters of Brahmaputra to see these dolphins up close. Smaller than the ocean dolphins, Gangetic dolphins are an endangered species.

When To Visit Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park is open for visitors in winter and summer (November to April). When the monsoon ends, the park looks stunning with its lush and blooming vegetation. The climate in the park is also quite pleasant and inviting, making it an ideal time to visit the park. November and February, in particular, are the best months to visit the park.

Similarly, the summers are also a great time for wildlife viewing. April, in particular, is the best month to visit. Although a bit hot in the afternoons, the temperatures are bearable. And as the day unwinds, the temperatures cool down.

Remember, Kaliganga remains closed for the duration of the monsoon, which falls between June to October.

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