Bhutan`s help sought for restoring Manas National Park

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 12:49

Guwahati: In a bid to remove the tag of
`world heritage site-in-danger` from the Manas National Park,
the Centre and Assam government have approached Bhutan for
help in revival of the picturesque animal reserve.

The park has been languishing ever since it was declared
a world heritage site-in-danger in 1992 after almost 95 per
cent of its infrastructure and most animals were affected by
the protracted Bodo agitation for a separate state.
In July last year, a last-ditch effort was made by the
government at the Quebec meeting of the World Heritage
Committee for withdrawal of the tag, but that too ended in a
failure.

Since the park is divided into two parts -- the Manas
National Park in Assam and the Royal Bhutan Sanctuary across
the Manas river in Bhutan -- the government has approached the
neighbouring country for speeding up conservation work.

"Yes, we have submitted a trans-border cooperation
programme to the Royal Bhutan government as bigger animals
like tigers and rhinos need additional habitat which is
important for their long term conservation," park`s director,
A Swargiari, has said.

After the agitation ended and the Bodos achieved a
Bodoland Territorial Council, several attempts were made to
restore the pristine glory of Manas and make it a permanent
World Heritage Site.

The park authorities are also upbeat as the World
Heritage Site Monitoring Committee, which visited the park a
couple of months back, has submitted a satisfactory report.

"The committee was satisfied with the measures taken in
the last one and a half years towards restoration of the
park`s status as a world heritage site," the director said.

One of the biggest conservation success stories was the
translocation of two full-grown rhinos from the Pabitora
wildlife sanctuary, near here, to the park in April, last
year.
The translocation was done under the Indian Rhino Vision
2020 in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund and
supported by the International Rhino Foundation and US Fish
and Wildlife service.

As per the Rhino vision programme, as many as 40 rhinos
are to be translocated to the Manas National Park from
Kaziranga National Park, a world heritage site, and the
Pabitora sanctuary which boasts of the highest concentration
of rhinos.

Swargiari said the initiative was aimed at a population
of 3000 rhinos in all the protected areas of the state.

He said as per the heritage committee regulation, the
road network in the park is restored in order to enable the
visitors to go deep inside the park and enjoy the beauty of
flora and fauna.

The strength of the forest personnel has also gone up
as well as the beat camps inside the park most of which were
burnt down by miscreants during the Bodo agitation.

The people and the nearby villagers are also being
involved as any conservation story is incomplete without the
involvement of the people residing in the park`s surrounding
areas.

Swargiari said even poachers have turned protectors of
the park and the forest department, which falls under the BTC,
is contemplating to recruit some of them as forest guards.

``The local people, who earlier used to poach animals,
have learnt the need for conservation and if they are
recruited the park will be well protected as they have every
knowledge of the park`s nook and corner,`` he said.

Manas is about 176 km from Guwahati city and the Borjhar
airport. The nearest railhead is Barpeta road from where a
visitor can hire taxis to reach the park with a drive of just
about an hour.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 12:49

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