ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Animals Explore New Habitats as Kaziranga Reclaims Encroached Land

The Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve is going through one of its best seasons. There have been many new land additions to the Park after encroachments were successfully removed. With stricter vigil against poachers and successful integration of fringe villagers in conservation, poaching has come down significantly.
Indian Masterminds Stories

The world experienced never-before-seen losses in 2020-21 brought about by the Covid 19 pandemic. However, in one small part of the globe, at least, this period was one of gain. For Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve, this was one of the best periods ever, as 230 sq. km of land was added to the Park, taking the consolidated land mass from the original 430 sq. km to 1300 sq. km. The latest – the 10thaddition – was as recent as November 9.

With the addition of new land and poaching coming down significantly, there has been a marked change in animal movement as they have started exploring new corridors and are moving into new habitats. Indian Masterminds spoke to Field Director of Kaziranga National Park, Mr. Siva Kumar (IFS), to find out if this is a golden phase for the animals of Kaziranga, as their habitat is getting larger and safer, and they are being able to move around freely and explore new ground.

Mr Kaziranga: Field Director of Kaziranga National Park, Siva Kumar (IFS)

POACHING DOWN, LAND ADDED

Field Director of Kaziranga National Park, Mr. Siva Kumar, is fondly called Mr. Kaziranga by the locals for his untiring efforts to preserve this world heritage site. Once upon a time, his parents worked as labourers in a forest area of Tamil Nadu. Today, he is labouring to protect a world famous forest area in Assam. Call it quirk of fate or sheer irony, but his destiny seems tied to forests!

The Kaziranga Man not only detailed the additions to the Park, but also revealed how it was done to Indian Masterminds.

“The additions mainly happened in the last two years because earlier we were always on our toes trying to save our rhinos from the poachers. Poaching had reached an all-time high that time. But with poaching significantly coming down, we were able to focus on encroachments.”

He informed that there has been only one incident of poaching in the current year, a marked climb down from the earlier 20-25 cases in a year.

A rhino calf being tended to by forest staff

ENCROACHMENTS REMOVED

The officer revealed that it was very difficult to remove the encroachers, but they finally managed with talks, counselling and rehabilitation promises. They also had to use force to evict in some places, but he calls it necessary, controversies surrounding them notwithstanding.

 “There were a lot of criticism about our action. People even said that we valued animals lives more than human lives. But I feel it was necessary. For me, the Park is only for animals and my first job is to protect them and their habitat.”

MAINLY FISHERMEN

He said that most of the encroachers are fishermen, and they were more worried about the loss of their livelihood than the loss of their living quarters.

“Every year floods wrought havoc on Kaziranga. Animals get displaced and some of them even meet with watery graves. However, the same floods are most beneficial for the encroachers. Because this is when they are able to catch maximum fish. The Kaziranga fish have big markets. Guwahati city, too, is in this list.”

An Asiatic elephant enjoying in a water body of Kaziranga

REHABILITATION PACKAGES

The officer informed that, taking into account their loss of livelihood, they were given rehabilitation packages after eviction, so that they could start some alternative occupation.

“After the 8th addition of land, we paid Rs. 14.70 crore in compensation package. And another Rs. 104 crore compensation package is under process now for the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th additions.”

FIRST COUNSELLING, THEN FORCE

He also said that the encroachers were earlier getting political patronage and protection because of which no action was taken against them.

“Since 2020, we are targeting illegal encroachment on Kaziranga land on a war footing. First, we talk to the encroachers and counsel them. We explain to them how the entire population in the area is dependent for livelihood on the Park and, hence, it has to be preserved and protected at all costs. Most of them understand and vacate the land. And the few who don’t, we have to use force to evict them. There’s no other way.”

Gun-toting women forest guards with guard dog on vigil

INTERLINKING HABITATS

According to Mr. Kumar, the forest department has been aggressively expanding the Park’s boundaries to provide habitat for surplus population and to enhance genetic variability among individuals of the same species.

“We have taken over land in 2020 and 2021. These areas, even though notified in 1985, were still under encroachment and were finally taken. We created three new corridors under the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th additions by interlinking Kaziranga with Karbi Anglong Hills, Kaziranga with Nameri Tiger Reserve, and Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuary (under Kaziranga Tiger Reserve) with Orang Tiger Reserve.”

This interlinking and creation of corridors have eased animals’ migration. Six tigers and one rhino from Kaziranga are using the Burachapori-Orang landscape now.

POACHING CURBED

With increased animal movement, stricter vigil on poachers is being enforced. As a result, poaching is greatly reduced.

“Our zero tolerance to poaching has shown results, with only 1 rhino poached in current year. Till a few years back, poaching cases were 25 on an average. Joint patrolling mechanism with police, involving fringe villagers, strengthening civil administration have been successful in curbing rhino poaching.”

THRUST ON ECO TOURISM

Mr. Kumar further informed that the forest department has launched major eco-tourism projects to create jobs and livelihood for the people living on the fringes of Kaziranga to create a sense of belonging in them so that they voluntarily take part in conservation.

“New eco-tourism sites were added at Katahal, Laokhowa, Burachapori, Bhomoraguri, Panpur, Chirang, Banderdubi. Trekking and river tourism were introduced. River dolphin conservation is also being given due priority.”

Field Director Siva Kumar: His water conservation efforts in Kaziranga received praise from PM Modi in his Mann Ki Baat

APPRECIATION FROM PM

Lastly, Mr. Kumar proudly mentioned how their water conservation efforts have been appreciated by no less than the Prime Minister of the country himself!

“We are doing water harvesting in a big way. Area specific check dams were constructed in 5 locations. Harvesting of rainwater was also introduced. A 100-crore-litre water conservation initiative was started last year, for which we received appreciation from Honourable Prime Minister in his February 2021 Mann ki Baat.”


Indian Masterminds Stories

Related Stories

News

govt_assam_resized
Assam: Senior IAS Ajay Tewari Given Additional Charge As Chairman of State Level Recruitment Commission for Class-III Posts
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) resized
IFS Tanmaya Lal Made Secy (West), MEA
IAS Krishna Teja
IAS M Krishna Teja Given Inter-Cadre Deputation From Kerala To Andhra Pradesh
Government of India (Resized) India
IRTS Jagriti Singla Appointed As Private Secy To The Minister of State For Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
IPS L Subbarayudu
IPS L Subbarayudu Given Inter-Cadre Deputation
Indian Foreign Services ..
IFS Arun Kumar Chatterjee Posted As Secy, CPV & OIA
Government of India (Resized) India
IRTS Narain S N Appointed As Private Secy To Union Minister Suresh Gopi
NTPC
Vijay Chand Appointed Head of Project at NTPC Talcher Thermal

Videos

N Vijayalakshmi
Transforming Dairy Production in Bihar with Innovative Programs
Seema Alawa
"Revolution in Justice: India's New Laws Promise Fairness and Modernity" Explained by Officer Seema Alawa
S Raveendran
Bihar’s Sports Transformation: From Lagging Behind to Olympics
ADVERTISEMENT
Latest
Latest
Anil Kumar Rai
From Struggling Student to Esteemed IPS Officer: Anil Kumar Rai’s Remarkable Journey
govt_assam_resized
Assam: Senior IAS Ajay Tewari Given Additional Charge As Chairman of State Level Recruitment Commission for Class-III Posts
ADVERTISEMENT
Videos
Videos
N Vijayalakshmi
Seema Alawa
S Raveendran
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT