Foreign tourists visit Kaziranga undeterred by terror

December 12th, 2008 - 11:03 am ICT by IANS  

Kaziranga (Assam), Dec 12 (IANS) The renowned Kaziranga National Park, home to the one-horned rhinoceros, continues to attract foreign tourists despite travel advisories issued by several countries against visiting Assam for security reasons.Allan Hully, a British tourist, is unperturbed by the Assam serial bombings in October and also the terror attack in Mumbai in November.

“Terrorism today is a global phenomenon and could happen anywhere in the world. That does not mean we stay back indoors. I am glad I came as scheduled to Kaziranga and have thoroughly enjoyed myself,” Hully told IANS after an early morning elephant safari.

“I saw scores of rhinos from near sniffing distance, besides other exotic wildlife.”

The 430-sq km park, 220 km east of Assam’s main city Guwahati, has the single largest population of the one-horned rhinoceros. As per 2006 census figures, some 1,855 of the world’s estimated 2,700 rhinos lumber around in Kaziranga.

Park authorities said the number of foreign tourists has shown an increase this year despite the terror attacks in the country. An estimated 1,000 foreign tourists visited Kaziranga in November.

“The recent spate of terror attacks had no impact on the flow of foreign as well as domestic tourists to the park. In fact, there has been an increase of about 35 percent foreign tourists in the month of November compared to the same period last year,” park warden S.N. Buragohain told IANS.

“Almost all the resorts and other government and private lodging facilities available in and around Kaziranga are already booked for the next two months,” the warden said.

Several countries, including the US, Britain and Australia, have issued travel warnings asking its nationals not to visit Assam for security reasons after the serial bombings in the state Oct 30 killed more than 95 people and wounded 300.

“We are not bothered by such terror strikes. I think Kaziranga is a paradise on earth and we are indeed delighted to have come here and seen wildlife from so close,” said Mike Greene, an Australian wildlife enthusiast.

“I would surely recommend my friends and relatives to visit Kaziranga.”

The fact that thousands of tourists visit Kaziranga is a strong pointer that the park is one of the most well-maintained and famed sanctuaries in the world.

“A visitor to the park never returns disappointed. There are hardly any tourists who complain of not coming face to face with a wide variety of animals during a safari inside the park,” smiled park ranger D.D. Boro.

The success of Kaziranga’s conservation efforts has earned accolades worldwide. The park today is listed as a world heritage site, besides having received several international wildlife awards for its exemplary conservation efforts.

“It was a dream visit and would cherish Kaziranga for the rest of my life. I had visited several sanctuaries around the world, but Kaziranga would surely top my list,” said Andy Mills, a tourist from New Zealand.

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