Kaziranga is a star when it comes to wildlife conservation. The number of endangered and vulnerable species which we saw in two days is a testament to its success. So is the fact that it has been an UNESCO world heritage site for over 30 years. As a result, I was intrigued when I saw reports on it in The Telegraph, The Times of India and Scroll. It seems that the union government’s plan to give over management of the park to a private company, is unacceptable to locals as well as to the state government.
In our recent visit to Kaziranga, we saw enormous involvement of locals in the sanctuary. It wasn’t just the hospitality industry. A drawing competition in a school was dedicated to wildlife. Advertisements branded themselves by the local animals. Some of the drivers were wonderful wildlife guides. Social involvement in the refuge seems very deep. I can understand the consternation about handing stewardship of the park and tourist facilities over to a single company.
Here is a summary of the uniqueness of Kaziranga, extracted from the UNESCO site: “The fluctuations of the Brahmaputra River result in spectacular examples of riverine and fluvial processes in this vast area of wet alluvial tall grassland interspersed with numerous broad shallow pools fringed with reeds and patches of deciduous to semi-evergreen woodlands. Kaziranga is regarded as one of the finest wildlife refuges in the world. The park’s contribution in saving the Indian one-horned rhinoceros from the brink of extinction at the turn of the 20th century to harbouring the single largest population of this species is a spectacular conservation achievement. The property also harbours significant populations of other threatened species including tigers, elephants, wild water buffalo and bears as well as aquatic species including the Ganges River dolphin. It is an important area for migratory birds.”