Now, explore Kaziranga on boats and bicycles

The core of the one-horned rhino habitat continues to be for elephant and jeep safaris

December 13, 2020 04:16 pm | Updated 09:37 pm IST - GUWAHATI

A priest puts ‘tilak’ on an elephant before start of a safari at the Kaziranga Natoinal Park. File

A priest puts ‘tilak’ on an elephant before start of a safari at the Kaziranga Natoinal Park. File

Elephants and jeeps are no longer the only modes of regulated transport to call on the rhino in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve, billed as the best-conserved home of the one-horned animal.

The park can now be explored by boats while bicycle tracks are being finalised. One can go trekking too.

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

But the new activities are beyond the 1,302-sq. km Kaziranga’s core area of 482 sq. km.

“Our priority is conservation with some amount of commercialisation. At the same time, we want domination of the areas added to the tiger serve and better monitoring by way of utilising the fringe areas for tourists,” Kaziranga Field Director P. Sivakumar said.

In November, the park authorities launched a boat safari at Bhomoraguri after the addition of 3,053 hectares to the park. The opening of the Bhomoraguri wildlife beat office under the Nagaon Wildlife Division of Kaziranga made this possible.

Also read | Kaziranga records 96 species of wetland birds

Bhomoraguri is about 30 km from Kaziranga’s westernmost range Burapahar.

A couple of unused buildings constructed in the 1980s for work on the Kalia Bhomora bridge across river Brahmaputra to the west of the boating point were converted to the beat office. The park authorities also renovated an abandoned ferry for use by visitors as a selfie point.

“We are using speedboats and country boats to involve locals in eco-tourism. There are three boating routes covering 5-12 km, the longest being the 44.06-sq. km Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuary to the west of Kaziranga. But most tourists prefer the areas near the bridge where river dolphins can be sighted,” Mr. Sivakumar told The Hindu .

Also read | Local visitors fill tourist space in Kaziranga reserve

Burachapori and the adjoining Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary are part of the Kaziranga landscape.

The Laokhowa-Burachapori activities, including camping, have attracted more than 3,000 visitors in a month compared to a solitary tourist during 2009-10.

If boating is the buzzword for the northern fringe of Kaziranga, the focus of eco-tourism promotion in the southern additions is on trekking and cycling.

Also read | Rhinos gasp for space in ‘Mini Kaziranga’

Two trekking trails — the 5-km Natundanga-Baneshwar and the 3-km Chirang, both under Burapahar range — are being managed by development societies of the villages concerned. They run home-stays and ethnic food centres too.

A third trail at Silimkhowa bordering Karbi Anglong district is also in the offing, park officials said.

“We have also identified a couple of cycling tracks. One that can be extended to 10 km has a natural rock garden spread over 2 hectares,” Mr. Sivakumar said.

Also read | Why are floods necessary in Kaziranga?

The objective of the new activities was to generate as much revenue to take care of the rhino habitat and the communities dependent on the health of the park, he said.

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