TODAY -

Of Wildlife and its Hospitality at One Horn Nation

Kamal Baruah *

 Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park



The rain had fallen sooner than we expected. It was weekend morning but nothing could dampen our energy and enthusiasm for a tour. Since the weatherman had predicted clear sky for the next day with possibility of sunny day, I jumped headlong into adventuring the jungle territory with my family. After an hour, puffy puri at roadside Dhaba satisfied our hunger. The good road condition thrilled and excited to go further and I kept my accelerator foot over a long drive despite the usual traffic at NH 37.

We followed the road, went across the saddle between two tors at Burapahar. The lush greenery Tea Estate of Kanchangiri welcomed us through the Eco-Sensitive Zone of KNP - Kaziranga National Park. The park has a huge area of four hundred plus square km. I kept driving through the animal corridor over speed breakers of fifty km long stretch. The entire road is in dire need of repairs. Ironically the sensor operated automated barriers and speed limit cameras have failed to prevent wildlife casualties.

The beautiful views of hillside resort brought a smile at our face whilst clouds were moving over the hills. We crossed the western gate Bagori by the side of the steep hills of Karbi Anglong. There’re huge grassland and lakes of Borbeel and Dighalibeel spreading the sanctuary.

The wheels finally took a right towards the Tourist Lodge. It’s surrounded by Hatikhuli TE. The nice accommodation and its concern towards tourist at Aranya have reminded why Kaziranga is renowned for its hospitality. It was early darkness due to proximity of the hills and we confined to the luxury cottage with a few energy drinks in tranquillity. The resort offered fine dining at supper.

It was the festival of light. Even giant Elephant and Rhino get terrified from Diwali boom. I rubbed my tired eyes after a tedious journey and fall asleep. I woke up by chirping from flocks of birds and saw lovely house sparrows through the window. The sun began to peep out. They’re chattering to communicate with each other of our arrival. These birds evolved with humans and are known to stay close to human habitations. They’re a common sighting in our childhood memories.

He was sitting in his jeep, wearing cowboy hat and boots. He’d promptly arranged a pass from the forest department and drove us to the jungle. I was impressed by his first caution for restriction of plastic and food stuff. The security check followed proper procedure and even refused to allow water bottle at Mihimukh. We adventured into the one horn nation. It protected habitat of elephants and two thirds of the world’s remaining one-horned rhinoceros.

The lonely road goes inside the Kohora Range. Our safari guide got every details of wildlife. I’ve been impressed by the knowledge and helpfulness of him. The deer got confused and attentive but the buffalo had another idea of attacking us after he sounds like them.

The Rhinos and Elephants took little attention for visitors. Interestingly they graze alone in the large grassland on the open meadows. Besides wild flora and fauna, KNP is home to tiger, hoolock gibbon and capped langur. As hundreds of migratory birds arrive, Kaziranga set to open to tourists.

The Karbi Hills are the saviour of KNP when the mighty Brahmaputra floods. The artificial highlands aren’t good enough to protect the helpless animals and there’re hunters poaching from the river. We saw a clean area under a Bel tree where ancestors lived now deserted. The etymology of Kaziranga comes from two karbi people namely Kazi and Rangai. Plenty of fishes are shoaling in Diphlu River. The tropical forest covered by broadleaf Simul tree.

At Kathopora tower, a herd of elephant were taking bath in the river. The mysterious dry deciduous thick forest, rivers and rugged trails near Daflung tower offer lingering thrill to any adventure seeker. The grasslands are burnt annually to regenerate low-lying vegetation enhancing the nutritional value for animal. My daughter made no secret of her dislike of Elephant safari as she feels it inhuman. Elephants are chained for forced ride to tourists. It’s a lifetime of torture and abuse.

The road was almost blocked by dung. It was Rhino that returns to same location to poop for a month. The dung odours signal sex, age and their territorial state. The significance of rising numbers of Rhino is very minimal as it gives birth after a long pregnancy of seventeen months.

Rhino’s horns are famous for healing properties in traditional Chinese medicine thereby hunted nearly to extinction. We could see a variety of birds from raptors to scavengers, migratory birds, waterfowl, and terrestrial wildlife they seemed to be standing still.

We’re surprised to see the sprawling area of the Orchid Park covering sour fruits, leafy vegetables, bamboo, cane and fishes. The flowering stems of a cultivated orchid are truly awesome. The guide had enthusiastically shown us a Holong tree, the name originated by British called it “How long”. After seeing the fifty varieties of Bamboo Park, I bet you can’t do that.

We eagerly waited for the biggest Thali of twenty menus at Lunch. The hospitality inside the Biodiversity Park is beyond imagination. Even tea garden offered us Jaluk masala they are abundant in every tree. The cultural program made our afternoon delighted.

We returned Guwahati in the late evening. A call had suddenly brought immense happiness enquiring our welfare. He is none other than the safari driver Mr Durlav Saikia. KNP’s hospitality is beyond imagination. Their friendliness continues even after leaving them.

I was overwhelmed by the generosity of one horn nation.


* Kamal Baruah wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a freelance writer based in Guwahati and a former Air-warrior with IAF and currently working for SBI
The writer can be contacted at kamal(DOT)baruah(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on November 15 2019.



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