Kaziranga National Park [UPSC Environment & Ecology] - An Overview

National Parks are the areas that are designated by the government to conserve the natural environment of the area. The Kaziranga National Park is one of the important wildlife reserves in India. It is one of the most famous National Parks of India and is known for its one-horned rhinoceros. It is also an important Bird Sanctuary. This article gives an overview of Kaziranga National Park.

Knowledge about National parks and wildlife sanctuaries are essential for the IAS Exam

National parks and wildlife sanctuaries are a significant part of the Environment & Ecology and Biodiversity segments in the General Studies paper 3 of the UPSC Syllabus

Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park is one of India’s oldest reserve areas. It is located in Golaghat and Nagaon, in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam in northeast India. The park is administered by the forest department of the Assam State Government.

History of Kaziranga National Park

Mary Curzon took the initiative to declare the area ‘protected’, with her husband Lord Curzon after she failed to spot a single rhinoceros in the area. 

Year  Description
1905 Established as Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest.
1950 Renamed to Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary
1974 The Government of India declared the area as a National Park. By this time, the area of the park had increased to about 430 sq.km from the original 232 sq.km
1985 UNESCO declared Kaziranga National Park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was home to 2/3rd of the world’s population of rhinoceroses.
2006 The Indian Government declared it as a Tiger Reserve after the Tiger Population dropped. Now, it has one of the highest densities of tigers in the world.
  • The park also has elephants, swamp deer, wild water buffalo, etc. It also has a wide range of flora. 
  • It also has 15 threatened species of fauna. It is also a breeding ground for many species of big cats like leopards and Bengal tigers. 
  • It also has many species of birds and is designated as an ‘Important Bird Area’ by Birdlife International.
  • The park has about 2413 rhinos. 
  • In March 2020, Kaziranga National Park was selected as one among the 17 Iconic Tourist Sites of the country by the Indian Government.

Also read, Tiger Conservation in India.

Kaziranga’s One-Horned Rhinoceros 

The greater one-horned rhinoceros is the largest of the three Asian rhinos and, together with African white rhinos, is the largest of all rhino species.

  1. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
  2. With at least half of the total population of rhinos, India’s Kaziranga National Park remains a critical reserve for this species.
  3. The greater one-horned rhino is identified by a single black horn about 8-25 inches long and a grey-brown hide with skin folds, which gives it an armour-plated appearance.
  4. They primarily graze, with a diet consisting almost entirely of grasses as well as leaves, branches of shrubs and trees, fruit, and aquatic plants.

Special Rhino Protection Force (SRPF)

In 2015, the process of setting up a Protection Force dedicated to controlling Rhino Poaching was established by the government.

  1. By 2018, a team of 82 members was appointed by the Assam Government.
  2. The SRPF went under intense training at the Forest Guard School along with weapons training at the 9th Assam Police Battalion, both, in Assam.
  3. Kaziranga National Park, also being a tiger reserve, the SRPF is also a tiger protecting force. 
  4. The Assam government would be paying the salaries of the SRPF members, and the amount would be reimbursed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which recommended setting up of the special force. Click on the link to know more about Project Tiger

One-Horned Rhinoceros and COVID-19

Amid lockdown for COVID-19, hunters are eyeing rhino horns for their high value in the black market.

  1. At least six thwarted attempts have been made by poachers eyeing Rhino horns, within a week in and around Assam’s national parks.
  2. A member of the Special Rhino Protection Force received bullet injuries during an encounter with a group of poachers in the Kaziranga National Park.

Click here to learn more about the Haathi Mere Saathi Campaign

Kaziranga and Wetland Bird Census 2019

The Wetland Bird Census 2019 has recorded the following with respect to Kaziranga Park.

  1. Kaziranga National Park has recorded 96 species of wetland birds, which is one of the highest for wildlife reserves in India.
  2. The survey has observed an increase in not just the total number of birds, but also the number of different species and the families. A notable improvement has been observed compared to the first wetland bird survey in Kaziranga (2018).
  3. The bar-headed goose constitutes the most significant share followed by common teal and northern pintail species. The other species with sizable numbers include gadwall, little cormorant, Eurasian wigeon, Asian openbill, northern lapwing, ruddy shelduck and spot-billed pelican.
  4. The survey has covered four ranges of the park — Agoratoli, Bagori, Kohora and Burapahar. 
  5. Agoratoli Range, home to Sohola, the largest of Kaziranga’s 92 perennial wetlands, saw the highest number of birds.

The wetlands constitute the major portion of and also nourish Kaziranga’s ecosystem. Data on wetland birds is vital given that an increase or decrease in the number of birds is indicative of the park’s health.

Get the complete list of National Parks in India important for UPSC Preparation.

Kaziranga National Park UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

The above details would help candidates prepare for UPSC 2020.

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