The Assam Forest Department said on Wednesday that the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve will reopen to visitors on October 1, 2021.
Only Jeep safaris to be allowed
Only jeep safaris in the Kaziranga Range, Kohora Range, and Paschim (West) Range would be open to tourists, according to a news release from the West Assam Wildlife Division.
Tourists are currently not permitted to ride elephants in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve.
The responsible forest authority is yet to announce dates for the reopening of the Eastern range, Agoratoli, Burapahar range, and Ghorakhati.
Other National parks
The Assam government had previously announced that the Orang National Park would reopen to tourists on September 30, 2021, subject to strict COVID-19 regulations.
The notification reads, “Orang National Park will be open for visitors following all the COVID-19 protocol and safety guidelines w.e.f 30th September’ 2021 for the coming tourist season of 2021-22 until further order.”
Only a portion of the tourist road will be open to the public due to bad road conditions caused by the recent flood – entry from Main gate-Orang Range Headquarter-Roumari Tiniali-Singbheti-Kanchanbagan Tower-Satsimalu Tiniali-Rahmanpur Tiniali-Range HeadQuarter-Main entry gate.
The remaining portion of the tourist route will be opened after the roads are repaired, and the public will be notified in due time, according to the statement.
Equipped with satellite phones
Kaziranga National Park (KNP) in Assam was the first national park in India to have satellite phones installed. Assam Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua presented ten satellite phones to Kaziranga National Park forest rangers.
On May 27, a meeting led by Assam Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma in the Kaziranga National Park decided to issue satellite phones to the park’s forest workers. Minister for Environment and Forests Parimal Suklaibaidya, ministers Keshab Mahanta and Atul Bora, the director of Kaziranga National Park, and deputy commissioners from neighboring districts were present at the meeting. Other senior forest department employees were also present.
According to a Kaziranga National Park official, equipping forest employees with satellite phones will help the park’s anti-poaching efforts. The satellite phones will also be used in the park’s six ranges where there is no wireless or weak mobile connectivity, according to the official.
The ten satellite phones for the National Park have been purchased for Rs 16 lakh by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA). The service provider will be BSNL, and the park officials will be responsible for the monthly costs.
Meanwhile, BSNL taught forest employees how to use satellite phones in situations where cell phones don’t work, such as shadows and grooves. The communication bottleneck will be overcome, according to an official with the Assam forest department, by using satellite phones deep inside the park.
“I thank the Chief Minister for realizing the communication bottlenecks and taking prompt action to provide satellite phones to the park. The satellite phones will be immensely useful for coordination. There shouldn’t be communication barriers and hence using satellite phones is a necessity in the Kaziranga National Park with a sprawling area. The satellite phones will give an edge to the forest personnel over the poachers and also during emergencies like a flood,” Parimal Suklaibaidya said.
Kaziranga flood 2021
Assam’s devastating floods have affected over 27 lakh people in 25 of the state’s 33 districts. The death toll from the floods in the state has now risen to 91, as two individuals drowned in floodwaters in the districts of Bongaigaon and Kokrajhar.
Floods have killed 123 wild animals in Kaziranga National Park, including 12 rhinos. There are 93 deer, four wild buffaloes, and other animals among the dead.