New Year brings in good news for an important wildlife corridor near the Kaziranga Tiger Reserve, Assam, India

Posted on
16 January 2012
Melanistic leopard and a Bengal tiger camera trapped in Karbi Anglong
By Soumen Dey

The Kaziranga Tiger Reserve with its additions to the National Park area over the years is 1033 sq km large and spreads over the districts of Nagaon, Sonitpur, Karbi Anglong & Golaghat. It is a wonderful mosaic of grassland, woodland and water bodies which make it an ideal habitat for many threatened mammals and birds including the great Indian one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis), Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris), wild buffalo (Bubalis bubalis), Asian elephant (Elephas maximux) and eastern swamp deer (Rucervus duvaucelii ranjitsinhi). It boasts of the highest density of wild Bengal tigers.

The mighty River Bramhaputra flows across the northern boundary of Kaziranga flooding the park during monsoons. In the process it enriches the soils and washes out the water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) from the many wetlands. This helps rejuvenate Kaziranga’s eco-system. However, the floods also lead to migration of Kaziranga’s wild mammals to the adjoining hills of Karbi Anglong located to its south. The migrating animals use specific forested strips or ‘corridors’ to cross over to higher grounds across the National Highway 37 (NH37). There are four such corridors currently intact - Panbari, Haldibari, Kanchanjuri and Amguri, which are vital links between the flooded park and the higher grounds in Karbi Anglong.

WWF-India’s camera trap work in Kaziranga - Karbi Anglong corridors
WWF’s Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Conservation Programme (KKL) has been since 2005 working to document the above corridors by initiating conservation activities involving communities around them. This is a challenging task given that these corridors, lying south of KNP, are densely inhabited with villages and many tourist resorts have sprouted in them of late. The ongoing land use change to accommodate growing population and tourism pressure is slowly choking some of these corridors.

Apart from its association with the local communities, the KKL team is also documenting the movement of animals in Kanchanjuri corridor. Camera traps were deployed in June 2010 to get photographic evidence of animal movement. By the end of 2011 a range of animals were observed to be using the corridor, with elephants being the most captured. Other captured wildlife include wild boar, barking deer, jungle fowl and common leopard.

Last Christmas, a special gift awaited the team as they went to check the results in the cameras. On 27 December they retrieved a picture of a melanistic common leopard (Panthera pardus), popularly called black panther, the first time ever this mammal has been recorded in the checklist of mammals of Kaziranga and the first for Karbi Anglong District too. Further good news awaited the monitoring team into the New Year as they checked the cameras for the first time in 2012. The camera had recorded a Bengal tiger using this corridor! These records indicate the active use of the corridor. WWF-India reiterates its support to saving these corridors to ensure the long term survival and dispersal of animals to neighbouring forested areas in Karbi Anglong.


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