Prince William and Kate Middleton 'shocked' by rhino deaths in Indian floods

Prince William
Prince William and Kate Middleton during their visit to the park.

Words by Sanjay Jha, ITV News, Delhi

Weeks of torrential monsoon rains, widespread flooding and deadly landslides in India have impacted over six million people and more than 100 have died, but wildlife has been worst affected.

Ninety-two percent of the world-famous Kaziranga National Park, home to more than 2,200 one-horned Indian rhinoceroses, remained inundated and officials from the Local Forest Department and the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) have said that at least 123 wild animals have died in floods and 150 have been rescued so far.

The animals that have died in the deluge include 12 rhinos, 93 hog deer, seven wild boars and four wild buffalos.

Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, who visited in 2016, have expressed their deep concern over the devastation caused by the deluge, particularly at the Kaziranga National Park.

Rhinos in the park. Credit: PA

In a letter to the park’s director P Sivakumar, the couple wrote that they were heartbroken to hear about the devastation to the park and its precious wildlife.

“We have the happiest memories of our visit to Kaziranga in April 2016 and are shocked by what has happened. The deaths of so many animals, including one-horned rhino, are deeply upsetting,” the letter reads.

“We know from our visit how dedicated all the staff in Kaziranga are in caring for the park’s wildlife, and can only begin to imagine what a difficult time this must be. Catherine and I greatly admire all the work that you and the rangers at Kaziranga are doing to risk your own safety, rescue animals, and contain the damage.”

The royal couple said the loss of lives and livelihood in Assam as a result of the floods, coming on top of the Covid-19 pandemic, was deeply distressing. They offered their condolences to all the affected.

Kate Middleton feeds a rhino. Credit: PA

In her trip Kate was bottle feeding baby rhinos and watching kids dancing at the Kaziranga National Park.

Prince William had been particularly interested to tour the park in order to hear about its conservation efforts, a cause for which he has long campaigned. The visit, in fact, was intended to call global attention to the need for protection of endangered animals.