After Months of Shutdown Due to Covid-19, Assam's Kaziranga National Park to Reopen for Tourists Today
The UNESCO World Heritage Site will be opened to the public under strict COVID-19 precautionary measures.
Assam's Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve is all set to open for tourists on Wednesday, eight months after it was shut in view of the coronavirus outbreak. Famous for its one-horned rhinoceroses and tigers, the national park will formally be reopened by Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The UNESCO World Heritage Site will be opened to the public with strict COVID-19 precautionary measures in place. Wearing masks, using hand sanitizers, and maintaining social distancing will be compulsory for all visitors. Besides this, only a limited number of jeep safaris will be allowed at a time.
Only two ranges have been opened up for tourists – Kohora Range and Bagori Range – where jeep safari will be permitted. The remaining ranges are still shut due to poor road conditions. The shutdown of the Kaziranga National Park has been the longest in its 112-year-history.
“The park is opening today after its longest shutdown. We are opening the park after eight months due to Covid-19 outbreak. Two ranges will be operational for the tourists. The opening ceremony will be graced by Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya, host of other ministers and forest officials,” said KNP DFO Ramesh Kumar Gogoi.
Gogoi also informed that elephant safari inside the park will start from November 1. The forest authority is planning to add five more new tourist destinations in the Kaziranga National Park and all the new activities will resume from November 1.
“We are not expecting many tourists in the initial days, but slowly it will pick up. Till now, we are yet to get elephant safari bookings for Bagori Range, but I hope, with time, the slots will fill up,” Gogoi added.
Five national parks and 18 wildlife sanctuaries in Assam have remained shut since the Covid-19 outbreak in March. In July this year, heavy floods had submerged almost the entire Kaziranga Park in which over 100 wildlife animals, including rhinos, were killed. The floods that hit Assam in 2019 had claimed nearly 200 animals in the park, including 18 rhinos. Kaziranga is home to at least 2,400 one-horned rhinos, the world's largest population, and 121 tigers.
With inputs from Bitupan Borah