located on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra River in the far North East, in the
Indian state of Assam, is a very different Tiger reserve. Its 430 square kms of
swamps, sandy riverine islands and waves of tall elephant grass exist over over
a flat and broad plain, interspersed with forests of moist tropical tree species.
Bordered by tea plantations and the Karbi Anglong hills in the South, it is nonetheless
ideal habitat for the Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros, and is also reckoned to have
of the densest tiger populations left in India, one tiger per 5 square kms. Located
on the edge of the Eastern Himalayas, this park combines both an extraordinary high
diversity of species but also very good visibility.
great, gruff, one horned Rhino, with its great primodial armour plating, and a singular
horn on its head, is the main attraction, and it’s not unusual to witness
dozens of these Jurassic looking creatures from a machan (look out) on a game drive
or from elephant back. Kaziranga is a massive success story, a population that had
by 1903 collapsed to only 12, now numbers over 1800 within its boundaries, and populations
have now be used to restore other regions where they had gone extinct like Manas
But these aren’t its only attractions for there are also large herds of Indian
Elephants, and some of the last truly wild Indian buffalo, with their magnificient
horns. Other species you can enjoy here include Swamp Deer or Barasingha, Hog Deer,
four cat species including the mighty Tiger (elusive), the Leopard Cat, the Fishing
cat and the Jungle Cats, wild Boar, Golden Jackals, great pythons and Monitor Lizards.
Furthermore 9 of the 14 primate species found in India occur in the park including
the Assamese Macaque, the Capped langur and the beautiful Golden Langur, as well
as the only ape found in India, the extraordinary Hoolock Gibbon. Living together
for life the comic and very vocal males in his jet black fur with vivid white eyebrows
and the female in her light brown coat, together make excellent viewing during a
game drive or walk in the nearby forests. Two of the largest snakes in the world,
the Reticulated Python and Rock Python, as well as the longest venomous snake in
the world, the King Cobra also inhabit the park.
is also a birders paradise; the grasslands is good raptor country and regular sighting
include the Oriental Honey Buzzard, Black-Shouldered Kite, Black Kite, Brahminy
Kite, Pallas's Fishing Eagle, White Tailed Eagle and Grey-Headed Fishing Eagle.
Originally home to seven species of vultures, they recently became almost extinction,
and only the Indian Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture, and Indian White-rumped Vulture
have survived. Huge numbers of migratory birds descend on the parks lakes and marshlands
areas during winter months, including Greylag Geese, Bar-Headed Geese, Ruddy Shelduck,
Gadwall, Falcated Duck, Red-Crested Pochard and the Northern Shoveller. Other
bird families include the huge Great Indian Hornbill and Wreathed Hornbill live
in the tropical forests, whilst old World babblers such as Jerdon’s and Marsh
Babblers, weaver birds such as the common Baya Weaver, threatened Finn's Weavers,
thrushes such as Hodgson's Bushchat and old World warblers such as the Bristled
Grassbird live in the reeds and grasses. Other threatened species include the Black-breasted
Parrotbill and the Rufous-vented Prinia.
Game viewing is done in Gypsy jeeps along the reserve’s dirt roads and also
on elephant back. No walking is allowed in the park.
Best Time to Visit Kaziranga National Park
The best time to visit Kaziranga is from mid-November to early April months, before
the rain arrives. Controlled fires burn the tall grasses in mid-winter and uncontrolled
fires in the surrounding countryside can affect the clear air in March.
IN THE FIELD UPDATE
Mar 2012 - This park continues to be a fabulous nature lover’s paradise. A rare black panther (a melanine leopard) was spotted here for the first time. Such a specimen was last seen in Karnataka, so excited the whole wildlife community. The Indian One horned Rhino population continues to grow and now has over 1800 individuals (it is India’s greatest conservation success story, that started with little over a dozen remaining animals in 1903). Now it is not unusual to see 30 rhino from a ‘machan’ in the park. The forest officials have also started using sniffer dogs to track poachers within the Park. If this exercise proves successful, more such dogs will be employed, although it might not be feasible to use them in some areas due to fear of tigers.
Though Kaziranga is reckoned to have a higher density of tigers than any park in India - 34 in 100 square kms of the core area - our sources reckon you only see a tiger once in every ten drives, though frequency appears to be increasing.
Few know it, but you can also doing walking trips in one specific range and in the forests just outside the park, but we only suggest you do this with expert naturalists and a guard – generally supplied by a PUG audited lodge.
Unfortunately, incidents of rhinos straying out of the Park and attacking vehicles on the National Highway 37 have been reported. This would be one ‘story for the grandchildren’ but does illustrate the issues vividly.
Feb 2011 - This park continues to be a fabulous nature lover’s
paradise. The One horned Rhino population continues to grow to over 1800 individuals
(its India’s greatest conservation success story, that started with little
over a dozen remaining animals in 1903), and it’s not unusual to see 30 rhino
from a ‘machan’ in the park. Large herds of elephant are seen every
day, large herds of swamp deer and hog deer, and an expanding herd of what’s
reckoned to be 1700 wild buffaloes, with their huge curved horns. It is also a special
place for birdwatchers, lots of migratory species, waterfowl, pelicans and then
forest species including the Giant Hornbill. Though Kaziranga is reckoned to have
a higher density of tigers now than any park in India - 34 in 100 square kms of
the core area - our sources reckon you only see a tiger once in every ten drives,
though frequency appears to be increasing. The Elephant back rides in the Central
region are often very prescriptive and unadventurous, but it is now possible to
request rides in other parts of the park that last somewhat longer than 15 minutes.
Few know it, but you can also doing walking trips in one specific range and in the
forests just outside the park, but we only suggest you do this with expert naturalists
and a guard – generally supplied by the best lodges.
Please note: We have one lodge that have been PUG audited and details
will follow. There has also been some concern about the Karbi Anglong community,
whose territory borders the park and the insurgency elements within this tribal
community, but it has so far had no effect on tourism here.