Kaziranga National Park (858.98 Kms)
Any, Wildlife Sanctuary, National Park, Tiger Reserve
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Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary is a national park in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of the state of Assam, India. The sanctuary, which hosts two-thirds of the world's great one-horned rhinoceroses, is a World Heritage Site. According to the census held in March 2015, which was jointly conducted by the Forest Department of the Government of Assam and some recognized wildlife NGOs, the rhino population in Kaziranga National Park is 2,401. It comprises 1,651 adult rhinos (663 male, 802 are females, 186 unsexed); 294 sub-adults (90 males, 114 females, 90 unsexed); 251 juveniles and 205 cubs.
Kaziranga is home to the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world, and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. The park is home to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer. Kaziranga is recognized as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for conservation of avifaunal species. When compared with other protected areas in India, Kaziranga has achieved notable success in wildlife conservation. Located on the edge of the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, the park combines high species diversity and visibility.
Kaziranga is a vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests, criss-crossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and the park includes numerous small bodies of water. Kaziranga has been the theme of several books, songs, and documentaries. The park celebrated its centennial in 2005 after its establishment in 1905 as a reserve forest.
HISTORY: The history of Kaziranga as a protected area can be traced back to 1904, when Mary Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston, the wife of the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, visited the area. After failing to see a single rhinoceros, for which the area was renowned, she persuaded her husband to take urgent measures to protect the dwindling species which he did by initiating planning for their protection. On 1 June 1905, the Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest was created with an area of 232 km2 (90 sq mi).
Over the next three years, the park area was extended by 152 km2 (59 sq mi), to the banks of the Brahmaputra River. In 1908, Kaziranga was designated a "Reserve Forest". In 1916, it was redesignated the "Kaziranga Game Sanctuary" and remained so till 1938, when hunting was prohibited and visitors were permitted to enter the park.
The Kaziranga Game Sanctuary was renamed the "Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary" in 1950 by P. D. Stracey, the forest conservationist, in order to rid the name of hunting connotations. In 1954, the government of Assam passed the Assam (Rhinoceros) Bill, which imposed heavy penalties for rhinoceros poaching. Fourteen years later, in 1968, the state government passed the Assam National Park Act of 1968, declaring Kaziranga a designated national park. The 430 km2 (166 sq mi) park was given official status by the central government on 11 February 1974. In 1985, Kaziranga was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its unique natural environment.
Kaziranga has been the target of several natural and man-made calamities in recent decades. Floods caused by the overflow of the river Brahmaputra, leading to significant losses of animal life. Encroachment by people along the periphery has also led to a diminished forest cover and a loss of habitat. An ongoing separatist movement in Assam led by the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) has crippled the economy of the region, but Kaziranga has remained unaffected by the movement; indeed, instances of rebels from the United Liberation Front of Assam protecting the animals and, in extreme cases, killing poachers, have been reported since the 1980s.
GEOGRAPHY: Kaziranga is located between latitudes 26°30' N and 26°45' N, and longitudes 93°08' E to 93°36' E within two districts in the Indian state of Assam—the Kaliabor subdivision of Nagaon district and the Bokakhat subdivision of Golaghat district.
The park is approximately 40 km (25 mi) in length from east to west, and 13 km (8 mi) in breadth from north to south. Kaziranga covers an area of 378 km2 (146 sq mi), with approximately 51.14 km2 (20 sq mi) lost to erosion in recent years. A total addition of 429 km2 (166 sq mi) along the present boundary of the park has been made and designated with separate national park status to provide extended habitat for increasing the population of wildlife or, as a corridor for safe movement of animals to Karbi Anglong Hills. Elevation ranges from 40 m (131 ft) to 80 m (262 ft). The park area is circumscribed by the Brahmaputra River, which forms the northern and eastern boundaries, and the Mora Diphlu, which forms the southern boundary. Other notable rivers within the park are the Diphlu and Mora Dhansiri.
Kaziranga has flat expanses of fertile, alluvial soil, formed by erosion and silt deposition by the River Brahmaputra. The landscape consists of exposed sandbars, riverine flood-formed lakes known as, beels, (which make up 5% of the surface area), and elevated regions known as, chapories, which provide retreats and shelter for animals during floods. Many artificial chapories have been built with the help of the Indian Army to ensure the safety of the animals. Kaziranga is one of the largest tracts of protected land in the sub-Himalayan belt, and due to the presence of highly diverse and visible species, has been described as a "biodiversity hotspot". The park is located in the Indomalaya ecozone, and the dominant biomes of the region are Brahmaputra Valley semi-evergreen forests of the tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests biome and a frequently flooded variant of the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands of the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. Kaziranga is also surrounded by lush green tea plantations, most of them contributing heavily to Assam's economy.