Twenty one rhinoceroses have drowned at the Indian wildlife sanctuary visited by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge earlier this year, as torrential monsoon rains ravage the country’s northeast.Rare one-horned rhinoceroses, mainly young calves, are among the 310 animals killed by flooding in the past eight days, with three-quarters of the Kaziranga National Park under water.In some parts of the park floodwaters have reached a height of five feet, forcing even the largest animals such as wild elephants to seek higher ground.“Most of the rhinoceroses who died were calves separated from their mothers.
They are very small and they can’t swim, while adult rhinoceroses are very good swimmers,” said Suvashish Das, a district forest officer.But the young calves which were fed by the Royal couple during their visit in April have all survived, park officials said.The Duke and Duchess were photographed during their tour of India and Bhutan bottle-feeding baby rhinoceroses at the park’s wildlife rehabilitation centre, which cares for orphaned and stranded animals.“The rhinoceroses that the Duke and Duchess fed are all fine and still in the hospital that they visited this year. We don’t release calves into the wild for one or two years.”“We have also rescued around 9 wild calves. They have been taken to the same hospital.”Several of the rescued rhinoceroses calves – those born in the wild and now in the three months to one year age range – were suffering from pneumonia but recovering, he said.At least 221 hog deer, a species indigenous to South Asia, have also perished in Kaziranga.The flooding, the result of heavy monsoon rains following two consecutive years of drought, is the worst to hit the region since 2012, when 124 people died and six million were displaced as the Brahmaputra river burst its banks.So far this year, 31 people have died across Assam state, with an estimated three million affected.The neighbouring states of Bihar and Himachal Pradesh are also badly affected, along with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. India’s army has been called in to help with relief efforts.