Ranjit Mondal, of Svasara Resorts, an avid Wildlife enthusiast, visits the mystical ranges of the Manas National Park during a month long vacation to his hometown Guwahati. After a week in the hustle-bustle of the city, his yearning for the wilderness led him to Manas. Though he was aware Manas National Park remains open throughout the year, he was not sure about the condition of the Park due to heavy Floods in Assam.
After a quick call to M.C. Brahma, Dy. Director, Manas Tiger Reserve to check if the conditions were favourable to enter Manas. He was invited to go and stay at the Forest Bungalow and was asked to meet the Deputy Ranger of the range, Pintu Sarkar who arranged for accommodations and Safari Jeeps.
Manas National Park or Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is a national park, and declared as a IUCN Category II UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve in Assam, India. Located in the Himalayan foothills, it is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
The Manas National Park was declared a sanctuary on 1st of October 1928 with an area of 360 sq. km. Manas bio-reserve was created in 1973. Prior to the declaration of the sanctuary it was a reserved forest called Manas R.F. and North Kamrup R.F. It was used by the Cooch Behar royal family and Raja of Gauripur as a hunting reserve. In 1951 and 1955 the area was increased to 391 sq. km. It was declared a World Heritage site in December 1985 by UNESCO. Kahitama R.F. the Kokilabari R.F. and the Panbari R.F. were added in the year 1990 to form the Manas National Park. In 1992, UNESCO declared it as a world heritage site in danger due to heavy poaching and terrorist activities. The lack of Strong security due to vehement Terrorist activities had made the park an easy target for the poachers.
On 25 February 2008 the area was increased to 950 sq. km. On 21 June 2011, it was removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger and was commended for its efforts in conservation activities. It is one of the two parks in Assam which is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its vivid natural heritage.
The sanctuary has recorded 55 species of mammals, 380 species of birds, 50 species of reptiles and 3 species of amphibians. Out of these species, 21 mammals are India’s Schedule I mammals and 31 of them are threatened.
The fauna of the sanctuary include Indian elephants, Indian rhinoceros, gaur, Asian water buffaloes, barasingha, Bengal tigers, Indian leopards, clouded leopards, Asian golden cats, dholes, capped langurs, golden langurs, Assamese macaques, slow loris, hoolock gibbons, smooth-coated otters, sloth bears, barking deer, hog deers, black panthers, sambar deers and chitals.
The park is well known for species of rare and endangered wildlife that are not found anywhere else in the world like the Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy hog.
The Manas hosts more than 450 species of birds. It has the largest population of the endangered Bengal florican to be found anywhere. Other major bird species include great hornbills, jungle fowls, bulbuls, brahminy ducks, kalij pheasants, egrets, pelicans, fishing eagles, crested serpent-eagles, falcons, scarlet minivets, bee-eaters, magpie robins, pied hornbills, grey hornbills, mergansers, harriers, Indian Peafowl, ospreys and herons.
During the safari the group had some very good sightings of One Horned Rhino, Elephant, Indian Gaur, Monitar Lizard, Malayan or Black Giant Squirrel, Capped Langur and the numerous colourful birds in the region.
Though they were unable to extend their stay in the jungle for longer, The experience had left a mesmerising spell upon them, and they left with a mind to return once again to the enchanting allures of wilderness of the Manas National Park!