On August 14, the Environment and Forest Department of Assam announced the split of Kaziranga National Park (KNP) into two divisions. Until now, the entire area under Kaziranga was managed by one administrative division – the Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, constituting five ranges – Kaziranga (Kohora), Eastern Range Agratoli, Western Range Bagori, Burapahar Range and Northern Range, Biswanath.
‘KNP initially covered an area of 429.93 sq. km. But after various additions, the total area under the management of the Eastern Assam Wildlife Division alone measured to 899.70 sq. km and management was becoming a problem,’ said D P Bankhwal, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.
Now, according to the new map, KNP will have two divisions – the Eastern Assam Wildlife (southern division) and Biswanath Wildlife Division (northern division). The notification from the government came on August 14 and stated that the change was made ‘in the interest of public service’ and ‘for intensive wildlife management.’
Rohini Saikia, DFO of the Eastern Wildlife Division stated that the move will lead to intensive management and protection levels will increase. At present, there are 369 staff members, while the sanctioned strength is 528.
In 2013 and 2014, 27 rhinos were poached. This number decreased to 6 in 2017 and 5 in 2018 (so far). ‘The Government constituted a specialized Rhino Task Force and that has helped,’ said Bankhwal. Steps to appoint the additional DFO for the Northern Division are underway.