1.         Kaziranga National Park (India) (N 337)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1985

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/337/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1997-1997)
Total amount approved: USD 50,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/337/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

The property will benefit from the UNF funded World Heritage India programme. Implementation of field activities will start soon.

Previous monitoring missions

1997: UNESCO mission; 2002: IUCN mission. 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Poaching of rhinos;

b) Development of a railway adjacent to the property;

c) Insufficient infrastructure, budget and staffing.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/337/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

The mission team which conducted the monitoring mission to Manas National Park was able to make a short visit to Kaziranga National Park (KNP) and discuss the state of conservation of the property with the park staff.

The mission noted that whilst KNP is probably one of the best managed World Heritage properties, it is faced with increasing pressures as a result of rapid changes in the surrounding landscape, related to increasing population pressure, agricultural development, infrastructure development and climate change. The mission was also informed about a recent increase in poaching incidents of one-horned rhino in and around the property. While the number of animals killed do not threaten the population, poaching within and adjacent to the property is a concern.

Park management also pointed to the lack of staffing and budget, in particular the unavailability of funds sanctioned under the central funding schemes, with funds held up at the level of the State Government.

Since the inscription of the property, the national park was extended several times, increasing its size from the original 42,996 ha to 85,942 ha today, including the river and floodplain areas, as well as strategic wildlife corridors to the Karbi Anglong hills. These extensions have not yet been added to the inscribed World Heritage property, as there are still some court cases contesting some of the additions and these have to be concluded before any proposal for extension can be submitted. The forest reserves in the Karbi Anglong hills provide critical habitat for many of the species in the national park, including for the rhino, during the annual flood season, when large parts of the park are inundated. The protection of these areas is thus critical for the conservation of the values for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List. The Karbi Anglong hills have seen important habitat loss over the last 50 years, in particular due to the establishment of tea plantations, settlement, logging and shifting cultivation. While important areas of the hills are protected as forest reserves, plans to create a wildlife sanctuary and even to include some of these critical areas in the national park have not yet been implemented.

A potential threat to the integrity of the property is the planned upgrading of the national highway 37 (NH37), running along the southern boundary of the park and separating it from the above mentioned Karbi Anglong hills. Traffic load on the road has been increasing since the inscription of the property and there is now dense traffic 24 hours a day, as heavy traffic is only allowed at night. A speed limit is in force on the road stretch running along the park and numerous signs are notifying the drivers, but the mission was able to observe that the speed limit is not respected. The road is thus already a partial barrier to an important migration route of the wildlife and its upgrading could pose a threat to the integrity of the property, as it is understood that the new road would be a four-lane national highway. If constructed, this would transform the already problematic road crossing into an impossible barrier for the wildlife of the property. The mission was informed that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been conducted but neither the plans nor the EIA have been submitted to the World Heritage Centre, as required by the Operational Guidelines. It was suggested that the EIA outlines a number of options to mitigate the impact of the upgrading of the road, including building underpasses for the wildlife or a re-aligned route on the opposite bank of the Brahmaputra. It is considered that further information and clarification on the status of this project is required from the State Party.

Other management issues for the park include the problem of interbreeding of cattle with the wild buffalo population, habitat degradation, notably as a result of invasive species, and overgrazing, probably as a result of increasing buffalo populations. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 32 COM 7B.12

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 26 COM 21B.10, adopted at its 26th session (Budapest, 2002),

3. Notes the important on-going efforts of the State Party to protect the property, in particular for the strategic extensions to the National Park in order to address issues of integrity affecting the existing property;

4. Requests the State Party to continue its efforts to create a protected area in the Karbi Anglong hills and to ensure the connectivity with the existing National Park, in order to ensure long term integrity of the property;

5. Urges the State Party to ensure that adequate funding and staffing is provided for the management of the property and that funds provided by the central Government are transferred in a timely manner to the property;

6. Expresses its concern about the planned upgrading of the NH37 national highway into a four-lane highway, which would block wildlife migrations and could threaten the values for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List and also requests the State Party to submit the plans for this development, including the Environmental Impact Assessment, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before any decision on the upgrading of the road is taken;

7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a report on the state of conservation of the property, in particular on the management and planned upgrading of highway NH37, efforts to curb poaching and on funding and staffing for the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.