In response to the pressing requests by domestic tourists and local tour operators, the authorities of Kaziranga National Park (KNP) on Saturday allowed visitors to embark on restricted jeep safaris inside the World Heritage Site after the six-month routine annual closure in the flood season.

Divisional Forest Officer at the KNP, Dibyadhar Gogoi told The Hindu that visitors were allowed restricted entry up to those areas in the park where they could go safely and comfortably. He said that only jeep safaris were allowed up to some restricted points while the elephant safari could not be undertaken as the elephant tracks were still mud-spattered and not yet ready.

Mr. Gogoi said the elephant safari could start in November. The majority of visitors on the opening day were domestic tourists. The park authorities were expecting the full flow of foreign and domestic tourists November onwards when the entire park gets ready to receive visitors.

Every year the KNP authorities are required to undertake repair work on park roads, bridges and culverts which are damaged in the floods. The damage this year was relatively less as compared to the previous year.

When the water level in the Brahmaputra starts receding the backflow of water in the rivers passing through the park stops, and they start carrying the discharge and the excess water from the park to the Brahmaputra again.

Thus, submerged high lands dry up fast but the low-lying areas continue to remain under water.

The water there dries up slowly through evaporation and seepage and the process lasts till early December.

Two important objectives have been proposed for the tourism zone in the KNP: regulating tourism activity in such a manner that there is no adverse impact on the protected area and providing maximum satisfaction to the visitors besides creating nature awareness and helping conservation.

The rhino population in the Kaziranga National Park has increased by over ten per cent in past three years. In the 2006 rhino census, Kaziranga recorded 1855 rhinos while the number went up to 2048 in 2009.