Animals flee flooded Kaziranga park

June 28 (IANS) Floodwaters of the mighty Brahmaputra Monday entered the Kaziranga National Park in Assam forcing scores of endangered animals to escape to safer areas, officials said.

'A vast stretch of the Kaziranga National Park is under water. Animals are migrating from the sanctuary to an adjoining hill for safety,' a park warden said.

As per the 2009 census report, 2,048 of the world's estimated 3,000 one-horned rhinos lumber around the swamps and grasslands of the 430 sq km park.

Heavy monsoon rains have sparked flash floods and submerged up to 400 villages, displacing more than 200,000 people in three districts of Assam in the past two days.

Meanwhile, the park authorities have ordered truckers to drive slowly as they pass a national highway that winds through the park.

'Special barricades have been put along the highway. Forest guards are asking drivers to drive under 40 km an hour as the animals use the highway to cross over to the hill to escape the floods,' the park warden said.

A large number of animals, including deer, get mowed down by speeding trucks while crossing the highway to escape the annual floods.

Park officials are now worried about poachers killing animals, especially rhinos and elephants, as they move from the sanctuary towards the hills.

'Poachers have a tendency to target animals taking advantage of the floods. We have put forest guards on alert in the hills where animals take refuge,' another park ranger said.

A Central Water Commission bulletin Monday said the Brahmaputra was flowing above the danger level in at least four places.

The regional meteorological centre in Guwahati has forecast more rains in Assam till July 1.