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Kaziranga Conservation History

Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park receives maximum protection under Indian wildlife protection and conservation laws. It has good conservation history due to efficient and effective Government policies with rules and regulations. It started as a reserve forest in year 1908 with motive to protect one-horned rhino population and other wild animals. Since then animal shooting and exploitation of forest has been stopped. Before this period, Kaziranga was open for hunting and indiscriminate animal shooting caused decline in rhino population.

Lady Curzon Visit
Kaziranga conservation actually begun after the visit and efforts of Lady Curzon who was wife of Lord Curzon, during British India time. Lord Curzon was Viceroy of India, holing a powerful position. In year 1905 Lady Curzon was on visit to North East India and by chance she visited Kaziranga region to see one-horned rhino in this region. She was on elephant whose mahout was Nigona, who was local resident and know jungle very well. During this expedition visit, they face difficulty in one-horned rhino sighting. Sometimes they saw from distance but on reaching close, the animal disappeared and they have to satisfy with watching their foot-marks. Lady Curzon expressed disappointment on poor sighting of rhinos in the area which was knows for their healthy population and tried to know the reason behind this. Her mahout revealed that due to un-controlled hunting practice in this forest, one-horned rhino population has been considerably decreased and efforts should be made to stop this for their revival. On returning back form tour, Lady Curzon discussed the matter with her husband Lord Curzon and tried to persuade him to take necessary steps to curb hunting and do wildlife conservation in this region. From that point, things started changing. In year, it was declared as reserve forest and hunting was ban in this region.

Conservation
Kaziranga forest have many concerns which should be dealt properly for sake of effective wildlife conservation. Among them poaching of Rhinos for horn and regular floods in monsoon season are the major concerns which results into loss of precious wildlife. Kaziranga provides shelter to rare wildlife species like One-horned Rhino, Tigers, Wild-buffaloes, Orangs, Eastern Swamp Deers species. With the passage of time many wildlife protection and bio-diversity conservation laws were made whose positive results are visible and known very well. We have a list of 12 Acts and constitutional safeguards ranging from Assam Forest Regulation of year 1891 to Bio-diversity Conservation Act of year 2002, ensures maximum legal protection to Kaziranga. Authorities had made a management plan (2003-04 to 2012-13) which they have clearly defined their objectives, strategies, zonations, problems, possible solutions etc. and proceeding according to that plan. They have developed a Management Information System based on Geographical Information System to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage and present all type of geographical data. It keeps eye on soil erosion and soil deposition. Apart from State Government, their are some NGO like David Shepard Foundation, Aranyak etc. who have extended their hands for wildlife conservation in this region. They spread social awareness towards need of wildlife conservation and reforms.

Poaching
It has always remain a major concern for Assam wildlife. Here One-horned Rhinos are the most prominent victim of poaching, for sake of their horns. Although Government has taken many possible steps, but illegal poaching is still going on in Kaziranga forest area. In between year 1980 to 2005, 567 rhinos were poached. Although Government of Assam has taken many effective step but unfortunately it is still going on. We can receive poaching news every now and then. With objective to curb the major problem, Forest Department has taken many step like increase in anti-poaching camps, recruiting new staff, intelligence gathering, mobility, increase in patrolling, control over firearms in and around national park area etc. Their are about 122 anti-poaching camps, working in Kaziranga tiger reserve. It includes two floating camps on Brahmaputra river. Forest officials have been provided various country boats, mechanized boats, elephants, field vehicles for effective patrolling. For better information exchange, they were provided wireless sets and equipped with better arms to combat with armed poacher gangs. Apart from this, Forest Department is also developing better road network, small bridges to ensure better patrolling and ensure reach to remote forest areas so as to keep conditions in their control.

Challenges
So far, we have done many acts of successful wildlife conservation but challenges are still present. Poaching and floods are still major challenge in this region. Although State Government has taken many steps to curb poaching but incidence are still taking place in regular intervals. Approximate 20 to 30 one-horned rhinos still poached, every year. Incidences of encounters between patrolling party and poachers are increasing. Kaziranga lies in Brahmaputra river flood plains and thus local villagers face a challenging life in this region due to which their financial condition is weak. Poacher gangs take undue advantage of such conditions and with the help of local assistance, their carry out their illegal acts. At the same time, we have seen that corruption in Government official also assist poachers to carry out their criminal motives. Thus their is immediate need to spread awareness among local people for wildlife conservation and assist to improve their financial conditions. As mentioned, Kaziranga lies in flood plains of Brahmaputra river, it faces regular flood in monsoon season (July-Sept) which puts survival challenge among wild animals. It takes many wild lives on compulsory basis, especially of infants. In such conditions, animals often enters into roads, highways, villages etc, in search of food and thus results in man-animal conflicts, run-over by transport vehicles, poaching etc. Large number of areas becomes unreachable for patrolling parties which creates room for poaching acts. One more problem is population pressure which is resulting into encroachment in forest area causing disturbance to wild animals and also causing conflicting situation between animals and human society. Elephant attacks in human society are prefect example of such malpractice.

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