It was the end of June. Bangalore had been shockingly dry with no signs of rain. I got a call from my friends in Assam, saying that Kaziranga was in flood and I must come over to help document it. All night my equipment was readied for the trip (yes, it does take all night). Reached Guwahati by mid-afternoon and drove straight to Kaziranga. There was no rain, just a blazing hot sun and water everywhere. I cursed myself for bringing the sun with me from Bangalore. I was rain deprived and hoping to see some real monsoon.
By around 10PM after six hours of driving, we were stopped by people along the road, saying that we would have to turn back, the river had engulfed the road. We pushed on forward and came to a traffic jam. Waters of the River Brahmaputra had indeed just started to submerge the road. While the big lorries moved on, although emanating large clouds of smoke from their vehicles, the little cars were hesitant. After another half hour of confusion the blockade cleared and we moved forward, tyres up to about a foot in water. We hurried along and reached the administrative boundaries of Kaziranga. The Forest Department guards had set up a check point. They handed us a ‘time-card’ and entered in a time and told us to drive slowly and carefully as wild animals were on the highway. The time-card was to ensure that vehicles moved at a slow speed. Check points ahead would calculate your speed of travel from point A to B, another way to deter people from speeding along the highway.
All along there were animals, herds of Hog deer, Swamp deer, Wild Buffalo and a few isolated ones. The highway was their high ground, a temporary refuge before they crossed into the Karbi Hills on the southern side of Kaziranga. It was well past midnight by the time we reached the destination and unpacked. The next day started by 4AM. Packed and ready we were out of the door to see the extent of the flood, the damage, and how the animals were dealing with this.
Presented below is the Kaziranga Flood July 2012 – In Pictures:
Wildlife rescue teams at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation will again have their hands full with many species like this rhino abandoned and unable to cope on their own.
Everyone in Kaziranga knew or rather expected another BIG one to come again this year. The soil already saturated from the first flood would not be able to absorb any thing more. Sure enough, over the weekend (September 23rd 2012) Kaziranga flooded once again. The waters have touched the highway and the rains in the catchment area of Arunachal haven’t stopped. Already hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced or affected by the flood. In the next few days we will find out the true extent of the flood and how many more animals have died in this year’s second big flood in Assam. But for Kaziranga, floods like this are an important part of the natural cycle. The amount of top soil that gets deposited during the flood enriches the soil and ensures a lush growth of new vegetation to support new life.
To really get an idea of what the area looks like, one has to see the Brahmaputra from above. In this parting shot, one can see the width of River Brahmaputra. At places the river can be over twenty kilometres wide, perhaps double that during the flood.
Jay Mazoomdar’s article about the flood
Conservation India link
Animal deaths no threat to Park – telegraph
All images copyright – Felis Creations-2012 – Photographs by Priya Singh, Bhuvan Gogoi & Sandesh Kadur