Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) will reopen for tourists on Wednesday after a gap of over seven months because of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in Assam.
This is the longest shutdown for KNPTR in its 112-year history.
KNPTR authorities said that the park famous for its one-horned rhinoceroses and tigers would be formally reopened at 11 am on Wednesday by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a function.
All five national parks and 18 wildlife sanctuaries in Assam, including KNPTR, which usually remains shut for around five months annually due to floods, were closed in March following the Covid-19 outbreak.
“This is the longest period of closure for KNPTR. Usually, the park remains closed from the end of May because of annual floods. However, this year, it was shut for an additional two and half months due to Covid-19,” said P Sivakumar, director, KNPTR.
“The usual precautionary measures such as wearing masks, using hand sanitisers and maintaining social distancing will be put to practise while allowing tourists to enter the park. We will also ensure that a limited number of jeep safaris are allowed at a time. The vehicles’ tyres will be sanitised after each trip,” he added.
All tourists will have to go through a screening process and anyone detected with Covid-19-related symptoms such as high fever, cough and could will be segregated and handed over to local health authorities.
The elephant safaris won’t be allowed to operate during the first few days of the park’s reopening and may resume from November.
Initially, only the Kohora and Bagori ranges of the park, which is spread over 914 square (sq) kilometres (km), would be reopened for tourists, the authorities added.