Last year, raging monsoon floods submerged nearly 80% of Kaziranga National Park. Unable to access drier highlands in time, more than 450 animals – including 26 rhinos, 363 hog deer, 14 swamp deer and 21 wild pigs – drowned in the floodwaters unleashed by the River Brahmaputra, which marks the park’s northern boundary.
Many animals were also killed by speeding vehicles while trying to cross a national highway to escape the flood. This highway, NH 37, forms the southern boundary of the park, separating it from the wooded highlands of the Karbi Anglong hills.
Babies were particularly affected. The flood – Kaziranga’s worst since 1998 – created a pool of stranded orphans. Either their mothers had drowned, or they had been unable to keep pace with their mothers as they attempted to escape.
Eight rhino babies survived.
In January, I traveled to the Centre for Wildlife Rehabiltation and Conservation near the national park, where …