In India's north-eastern region, Kaziranga National Park is one of the last undeveloped natural areas. It is the single largest undisturbed and representative area in the Brahmaputra Valley floodplain, covering 42,996 ha and located in the Assam districts of Golaghat and Nagaon. More than 2200 Indian one-horned rhinoceros live in Kaziranga National Park, which covers 430 square kilometres of elephant-grass meadows, swampy lagoons, and dense forests, accounting for roughly 2/3rd of the world's total population.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the popular national park is also a popular tourist destination. Apart from one-horned rhinos, the 430-square-kilometer national park is home to a high density of tigers, as well as a large breeding ground for elephants, swamp deer, and wild water buffaloes. The national park is also designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA), making it a birdwatcher's paradise as well as a great place to see wildlife in India.
The history of Kaziranga dates back to 1904, when Viceroy of India Lord Curzon and his wife, Mary Curzon, visited the region. The rhinos were nowhere to be found, much to their surprise. Mary Curzon persuaded her husband to take action to save the one-horned rhinoceros, whose numbers were rapidly dwindling. As a result, in 1905, a 232-square-kilometer area of Kaziranga was designated as a Proposed Reserve Forest. Kaziranga was declared a reserve forest in 1908, with an addition of 152 square kilometres.
It was renamed Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary in 1950 after being renamed Kaziranga Game Sanctuary in 1916. Kaziranga was not designated as a national park until 1968, when the area was expanded to 430 square kilometres. In the year 1985, UNESCO designated Kaziranga National Park as a World Heritage Site. In 2006, the government declared Kaziranga as a Tiger Reserve, citing an annual increase in tiger population.
Several books, songs, and documentaries have featured Kaziranga or have mentioned it. After Robin Banerjee, a physician-turned-photographer and filmmaker, produced a documentary titled Kaziranga, which aired on television in Berlin in 1961 and became a runaway success, the park gained international prominence.
Flooding and heavy rains have killed wild animals and damaged conservation infrastructures on a regular basis. Many animals migrate outside the park boundaries to escape the flooded areas, where they are vulnerable to hunting, being hit by speeding vehicles, or being subjected to villagers' retaliation for damaging their crops. Water pollution from pesticides used in tea gardens, as well as run-off from a petroleum refinery in Numaligarh, endangers the region's ecology. Native plants in the area have been threatened by invasive species such as Mimosa and wild rose.
Because of the difference in altitude between the park's eastern and western areas, alluvial inundated grasslands, alluvial savanna woodlands, tropical moist mixed deciduous forests, and tropical semi-evergreen forests can be found here. Kumbhi, Indian gooseberry, cotton tree, and elephant apple are just a few of the park's well-known trees. A wide variety of aquatic flora can also be found in lakes, ponds, and along riverbanks.
The world's largest population of Indian Rhinoceros can be found in Kaziranga Park's forest region. Kaziranga has the world's largest population of wild water buffalo, accounting for roughly 57 percent of the total. The 'Big Five' of Kaziranga are the One-Horned rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tiger, Asian elephant, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer.
For multiple species of large cats, such as Bengal tigers and leopards, Kaziranga is one of the few wild breeding areas outside of Africa.
The rare hispid hare, Indian grey mongoose, small Indian mongooses, large Indian civet, small Indian civets, Bengal fox, golden jackal, sloth bear, Chinese pangolin, Indian pangolins, hog badger, Chinese ferret badgers, and particolored flying squirrel are among the small mammals found in India. The park is home to nine of India's 14 primate species. The Assamese macaque, capped and golden langur, and the hoolock gibbon, India's only ape, are among the most prominent. The endangered Ganges dolphin can be found in Kaziranga's rivers.
A large number of migratory bird species from Central Asia can be found at Kaziranga. BirdLife International has designated the park as an Important Bird Area for the conservation of avifaunal species. During the winter, birds such as the lesser white-fronted goose, ferruginous duck, Baer's pochard duck, lesser adjutant, greater adjutant, black-necked stork, and Asian Openbill stork migrate from Central Asia.
The vulture population in Kaziranga was once home to seven species of vultures, but it was nearly extinct due to vulture feeding on animal carcasses containing the drug Diclofenac. Only three species of vulture have survived: the Indian vulture, slender-billed vulture, and Indian white-rumped vulture. Swamp francolins, Bengal floricans, and pale-capped pigeons are all game birds.
The great Indian hornbill and wreathed hornbill, Old World babblers like Jerdon's and marsh babblers, weaver birds like the common baya weaver and threatened Finn's weavers, thrushes like Hodgson's bushchat, and Old World warblers like the bristled grassbird all live in Kaziranga. The black-breasted parrotbill and the rufous-vented grass babbler are two other threatened species.
The park is home to two of the world's largest snakes, the reticulated python and rock python, as well as the world's longest venomous snake, the king cobra. The Indian cobra, monocled cobra, Russell's viper, and common krait are among the other snakes found here.
The Tetraodon is one of 42 fish species found in the area.
The Bengal monitor and the Asian water monitor are two monitor lizard species found in the park.