Habitat Management

The important aspect of management in Kaziranga is to maintain the seral stage of grassland by preventing invasion of tree forest. This is achieved primarily through annual burning of grasslands so as to discourage the growth of tree sapling. The operation also helps in enhancing the nutritional value of coarse grasses by facilitating growth of new shoots, which attract the herbivores. De-Siltation: It is observed that a number of water bodies inside the Park have shrunk in size due to siltation caused by flood. As the wetland are an integral part of ecosystem in Kaziranga de-siltation works of water bodies have been executed for last many years. Eradication of Weeds: The proliferation of various weeds like Mikenia, Mimosa and Eichhornia, causes ecological degradation of the habitat and is a major problem confronting the Park authorities. Some serious efforts such as Mimosa eradication, removal of water hyacinth etc. have also been made in the recent past. Bund Construction: With the onset of dry season, bunds are also constructed in some of the Beels(water bodies) to retain water to attract various species of migratory avifauna.

Habitat management in Kaziranga is basically restoration of grasslands- main habitat of most of the Habivores. Management intervention is minimal.

  • Controlled Burning
  • De-siltation of water-bodies and channels
  • Weed control & eradication
  • Water retention temporary dam

Controlled Burning

Tall grasses which comprises several species like Imperata cylindrica, Erianthus ravennae, Phragmites kharka, Arundo donax etc start to dry out from January onwards.

To facilitate growth of new palatable sprout and arrest succession of woody species, grasslands are burned in a planned and pre determined manner. For this purpose, whole Park has been divided into 30 major multipurpose blocs which have been defined on the basis of natural features, vegetation etc.

De-siltation

Brahmaputra River and tributaries originate in one of the most heavy rain fall area in the World, these rivers carry a large amount of silt every year and as Kaziranga National Park is situated in flood plain, considerable amount is deposited in water bodies of the park.

A action plan has been prepared under the guidance of Kaziranga Management Plan to control the problem and restore to original position as far as possible. Every year manual de-siltation works has been carried out in water bodies in a priority basis.

Weed Eradication

Mimosa invisa

A exotic leguminous straggling herb has spreads in to 120 ha. Of prime habitat-tall grassland and threatening very existence of the park. Management has spending considerable time and resources to control this problem. Till now, only manual eradication has been employed. This method involves two times cutting, uprooting before or maturing flowering.

Highland Construction

Some highlands have been constructed inside the Park to provide shelter to the animals during high flood. However, some more highlands with bigger dimension are required to be constructed to provide shelter to the marooned animals.

Grassland Management

Grassland management is one of the prime objectives at the park especially, when it supports a large concentration of various species of herbivores. The fact that the grasslands at Kaziranga are a seral stage makes it even more essential to have management interventions so that the process of natural succession is arrested at that stage. One such important management tool is prescribed burning. The burning is mainly done to arrest the successional stage from grassland to tree forests, which is known to have increased as per vegetation mapping by survey of India. The burnt grass land areas with new shoots provide sufficient food for grazing herbivores who mainly depend on short grasses in open areas and near water bodies. The short grass areas reduce extensively just before burning of grasses and many stray incidents of Rhinos and other animals are reported which come to a halt after new shoots appear in the tall grassland areas. The burning also enhances visibility and facilities anti-poaching surveillance. The following strategies are proposed for prescribed burning in the grasslands.

  • Range wise burning schedule for different block will be prepared to provide sufficient areas for movement, shelter and food for various animals. The possibility for converting the existing blocks in to uniform grids (1Kmx 1Km) will be explored and will be executed where ever possible for effective management of burning.
  • Studies on impact of burning and grassland ecology will be carried out.
  • Burning thatch grass areas known to be prime habitat for breeding of Bengal Florican will be completed before 15th of January every year. Grassland improvement techniques such as planting with Imperata cylindrica may be carried out incase of loss of natural habitat in the recent years. Any area remained unburnt will be taken up for burning only in next year.
  • Clearance and maintenance of fire lines along the forested areas to be done annually.

Wet Land Management

Kaziranga National Park is bestowed with unique wet land Eco-system which serve below mentioned important ecological roles:

  • Serves as important breeding ground and nurseries for numerous Fish population.
  • Prime habitat for most endangered species Rhinoceros unicornis.
  • It also harbour Swamp deer, Asiatic Wild buffalo, elephants etc.
  • Acts as roosting and nesting ground for migratory and indigenous water birds.
  • The net work wet lands of the Park is now listed as one of the major wet land sites in India. However, this unique wetland eco-system is confronted with myriad of problems such as shrinkage in size and depth of the water bodies due to heavy siltation and choking of water bodies by water hyacinths.

Strategies proposed for maintaining the existing wet lands of the Park in good health are:

  • Conducting extensive research through study, survey and mapping on various aspects of wetland eco-system such as its dynamics, siltation rate, effect on breeding of different faunal species due to change in wetland system, effect of water hyacinth, etc. Various academic institutions such as Wildlife Institute of India etc. will be on this aspect consulted.
  • During flood season, the movement of Water Hyacinth from water bodies to the south boundary then to Brahamputra river through Mora diffalu river will be facilitated by removing obstacles on its movement path. The accumulation of water hyacinth in streams, beels etc. will bw cleared.
  • De-siltation work is to be executed every year. Specific numbers of wet lands which are silted up rapidly are to be identified and physical removal of silts from such degraded wet lands will be taken up. Top priority for de-siltation will be given to the smaller wet lands which have been silted up and covered by tall grass. De-siltation activities in larger wet land will be taken up in peripheral area and the removed silt will be utilised for construction of high land. It has been proposed to execute desiltation work of 2,00,000 cum every year inside the Park. Acquisition of excavator with dumper with provision for proper up keep and operation is also suggested for this purpose.
  • In accordance with the recommendations made by Dr.Kushwaha in the report on Land mass dynamics and habitat suitability Analysis in Kaziranga National Park, an effort may also be made to create new wet lands in areas like Debeswari under Eastern Range.
  • An effort will be also made to monitor the water quality of river system and wet lands as the Park is surrounded by numerous Tea Gardens in which use of chemicals are very common. Likelihood of accumulation of some chemicals with rain water in the water bodies of the Park can not be over ruled. The regular monitoring on this aspect will reduce the chance of harmful effect on Fauna of the Park.
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