Flooding in India Kills Dozens, Endangers Rare Rhinoceros

Alex Blumer
Published: July 14, 2017

Flooding in northeast India has not only killed at least 40 people and displaced nearly 1.5 million, but also swamped a national park that houses the world's largest concentration of one-horned rhinoceros.

The Brahmaputra river overran more than 2,500 villages in India's Assam state over the past two weeks after bursting its banks due to torrential monsoon rains.

With thousands seeking shelter in more than 300 relief camps, authorities have declared a "maximum health alert" to combat the spread of disease.

(MORE: 20 Dead, Nearly Half a Million Affected by Monsoonal Flooding)

Efforts are also underway to help the rhinos and other wildlife put in danger when flood waters inundated Kaziranga National Park. Assam Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma told Reuters that more than 90 percent of the UNESCO world heritage site is under water. Two rhino calves drowned and 15 deer have died so far, according to Brahma.

Satyendra Singh, the park's director, expects the Brahmaputra's water level to come down by the end of this week, as long as there is no more heavy rain.

Officials are closely watching the movement of animals to guard against poaching. Poachers will use these situations to trap animals coming out of their habitats seeking higher ground.

"Poachers remain active throughout the year, but during floods they activity increases," said Rupa Gandhi, chief of communications at the Wildlife Trust of India.

Animals can also be hit by vehicles if they take refuge on roads.

Minister for Development of Northeast Region Jitendra Singh said that the damage caused by rainfall in Assam and two other northeast states, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipurby, is unprecedented.

Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that Jitendra Singh called him and expressed concern over the damage caused by the devastating floods. "He also conveyed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's deep anguish for the loss of lives and properties in the current wave of floods in the state," Sonowal told the Times of India.

MORE: Photos of Flooding in India

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