National Geographic : 2010 Aug
was hacked o her face while she was still alive. It took her two days to die. A series of arrests squelched the flurry of rhino poaching, although judging by past expe- rience, more bad guys will show up sooner or later. But the park has another major problem--- one nobody can suppress. Kaziranga depends upon a much larger land- scape to maintain its spectacular wildlife. In times of heavy flood, when the land vanishes beneath the Brahmaputra's brown currents, wildlife ees the reserve. It always has. Yet wher- ever the animals go these days, they encounter a rising ood of humankind. You can get lost in the tallgrass right up to Kaziranga's southern edge, but just beyond you're among kids, dogs, chickens, milk goats, and miles of rice elds. A little farther on, you might reach a shed where a listless cow lies oozing uids from the tiger wound on her neck, while Nijara Nath tells of discovering the cat at night in the cattle pen by the house. When crops begin to ripen, her hus- band, Indeswar, spends many nights at the edge of their eld trying to scare away vegetarians, from dainty-hoofed deer to rhinos that pothole a paddy with every step. e Naths don't resent the park---Indeswar's cousin makes good wages cooking at a tourist lodge---but they wish that the bureaucracy supposed to compensate folks for wildlife damage worked more e ciently. "Some years we have a big loss, some years small," Indeswar said, "but there is a loss every year." even closer on the park's north side. From high in a lookout tower at a camp there, I could see only tame life---dairy herds of domestic bu alo and cattle---feeding across wetlands inside the park. Since livestock grazed in this area before it was appended to the reserve in the 1990s, authorities allow the practice to continue. But the area as a whole experiences more elephant con icts than almost any place in Kaziranga has nearly 600 guards in the field, stationed between the unruly big animals and the poachers.