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Waiting for Curzon's kin to celebrate Kaziranga

By Sushanta Talukdar

GUWAHATI, JAN. 4. The Assam Government has written to two descendants of the British Viceroy to India, Lord Curzon, requesting them to attend the centenary celebrations of the Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary, scheduled to be held between February 11 and 17.

The State Government is awaiting a response from Sir Nicholas Mosley of London and David Metcalfe of Edinburgh, descendants of Lord Curzon, the Assam Environment and Forest Minister, Pradyut Bordoloi, said here.

The British Deputy High Commission provided their coordinates. The Government had requested the British High Commission last year to arrange the visit.

It was in the winter of 1904 that Lady Curzon had visited Kaziranga, hoping to see the one-horned rhino. But, she could only find some hoofmarks.

Alarmed that the rhino in Kaziranga was heading for extinction, Lady Curzon asked her husband to take measures to save the animal.

On June 1, 1905, the Chief Commissioner issued a notification declaring 57,273.6 acres as the Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest.

During the celebrations, the 1,600 rhinos in Kaziranga will be showcased as the century's greatest conservation success story.

The British High Commission will sponsor the visit of the biodiversity conservation expert, John Sale, based in the U.K., the key speaker in the sessions on grassland management, co-existence of humans and wildlife, nature tourism, which will be a part of the celebrations, the Chief Conservator of Forest and Member Secretary, Kaziranga Centenary Celebration, R.P. Agarwalla, said.

He said a village of mahouts would be set up in Kaziranga to showcase the traditional Assamese art of capturing and taming elephants.

An elephant festival, one of the highlights of the celebrations, would be aimed at strengthening the bond between humans and elephants.

The Ministry of Communications would release a series of commemorative stamps on Kaziranga during the centenary celebrations.

Kaziranga was declared the first National Park of Assam in 1974 under the Assam National Parks Act, 1968 and the original core area of 428 sq km was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 1985.

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