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Local visitors fill tourist space in Kaziranga reserve

Visitors going on elephant safari at the Kaziranga on Sunday. Special Arrangement  

The pandemic-wary domestic and foreign tourists have largely avoided the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) where elephant safari began on Sunday.

Also read: Assam floods: Why we need to act fast to save Kaziranga and its wildlife

But their space has been mostly filled by local people and visitors from elsewhere in Assam and its adjoining north-eastern States.

The KNPTR, the world’s safest address for the one-horned rhinoceros, reopened on October 21 after seven months. The annual tourist season for the park is from October-April but the last season had ended prematurely due to the COVID-19 lockdown in March.

“Elephant safari is one of the major attractions of the park. We started the safari from today [Sunday] but had to reduce the number of seats from 60 to 40 per day in order to maintain physical distance,” KNPTR Director P. Sivakumar said.

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He said the visitors this time were mostly from the north-eastern States.

The KNPTR also conducts jeep safaris.

Assam Forest officials said locals had also been travelling to other popular wildlife reserves such as the Manas National Park and the Nameri National Park “possibly because the tourist pressure is less this time”.

Also read: Kaziranga National Park set to be expanded by 3,053 hectares

KNPTR officials said the park earns an average annual revenue of ₹5.2 crore that took care of maintenance and salaries of the casual staff. Tourism in the State suffered in December 2019 due to the violent agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act before the pandemic struck.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 12:59:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/local-visitors-fill-tourist-space-in-kaziranga-reserve/article32998734.ece

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