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Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park is one of India 's finest parks and is situated in Assam , the gateway to the fabulous North East of India, home to several endangered species. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Kaziranga, has been protected since the early 1900s upon the initiative of Lady Curzon. Despite setbacks in the mid-1980s, when poaching peaked, today Kaziranga stands as a tribute to those underpaid forest guards who have often given their lives to protecting the habitat and the rhinos within.

The 500 square kilometres of Kaziranga is a unique habitat; much of it lies in the floodplain of the mighty Bhramaputra and is flooded every year. The wet grassland is characterized by ox-bow lakes or bheels, caused when the floodwaters retreat, and elevated flats called chapories where animals shelter during floods. Today many artificial chapories are build with the help of the Indian Army. Though the landscape of much of Kaziranga looks pancake flat, on closer approach one realizes that most of this flatness is in fact elephant grass, which may grow upto fifteen feet in height!

Kaziranga is, of course, most famous for its population of the Greater One-horned rhinoceros (Rhinocers unicornis) who depend on this unique landscape for their food and for wallows. This habitat is also favoured by the Asiatic Wild Buffalo (Bubalis arnee). Both beasts are known for their ill-temper and all vsitors are accompanied by armed guards. Elephants are also found in Kaziranga, as are two rare deer, the Hog deer (Axis porcinus) and the Swamp deer (Cervus duvaucelii).

Kaziranga also boasts of patches of evergreen forest and these are home to several species of primates, the most important being the Hoolock Gibbon, India's only ape (Bunopithecus hoolock) and the Capped Langur (Trachypithecus pileatus).

Kaziranga with 490 species has superb birdlife, much of it endemic to this region. These include Grey-headed (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus) and Pallas's Fish eagles (Haliaeetus leucoryphus), Pied falconet (Microhierax melanoleucos), Swamp francolin (Francolinus gularis), Bengal florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis), the Grey Peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron bicalcaratum), Great hornbill (Buceros bicornis), Oriental Pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris), Wreathed hornbill (Aceros undulatus), Red-headed trogon (Harpactes erythrocephalus), Sultan tit (Melanochlora sultanea), and the Pale-capped wood pigeon (Columba punicea). Wintering birds include the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Himalayan (Gyps himalayensis) and Eurasian Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus).

In all, Kaziranga is a moveable feast. One has to stand at the Dunga watchtower and see upto thirty rhinoceros before you to really experience this spectacle. In the evenings, Kaziranga offers a spectacle that is more characteristic of Africa , and one that no other Indian park offers, that of several species on view: rhino, buffalo, elephant, hog deer, swamp deer, and wild boar.