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Overgrazing in Kaziranga poses threat to park ecosystem

Grazing by domesticated animals could pose a serious threat to the natural habitat of the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, which is home to rhinos, buffaloes and elephants

The Kaziranga National Park, one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in India, plays host to a wide variety of herbivores like the rhino, buffalo, deer and elephant. And, of course, the magnificent tiger. Today, however, the park is under threat from illegal grazing by domesticated animals.

The natural flora of Kaziranga has become ready fodder for hundreds of domestic cattle that have entered the park in recent weeks. According to NGOs, the grazing is taking place not just at the periphery but also "inside the first and second additions, and in the eastern (Agaratoli) range right inside the Sohola wetland".

Grazing inside the park is bound to have serious consequences as it adversely affects the regeneration of grasses and shrubs. Overgrazing makes the ground hard and this is not conducive to the growth of short grass, which the rhino prefers, says a report in the magazine Sanctuary Asia.

According to the report, overgrazing will lead to the proliferation of weeds, which will become the dominant species and make the grass inappropriate for burning. All this will affect the natural habitat of the herbivores in the Kaziranga National Park.

Wildlife sanctuaries like Manas and Pabitora have also been affected by rampant grazing, the report says.

NGOs and nature-lovers have asked the Assam government to take this threat seriously. They say the failure to act immediately will reflect poorly on the state government's record and also hamper the revenue-generating tourism industry.

Source: oneworld.net, March 29, 2003