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Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (Assam): A Biodiversity Hotspot

22-FEB-2016 15:52

    Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is located at the base of foot hills of the Bhutan-Himalayas in the state of Assam. It is famous for unique biodiversity and landscape. It is the first reserve included in the network of tiger reserve under Project tiger in 1973. The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary was tagged as World Heritage Site in 1985. In 1989, Manas acquired the status of a Biosphere reserve. It extends over an area of 2837 Sq. Km from Sankosh River in the west to Dhansiri River in the east.

    This park is famous for its rare and endangered endemic wildlife such as the Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare, Golden Langur and Pygmy Hog. Manas is famous for its population of the Wild water buffalo.

    Brief Synthesis-

    Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the State of Assam in North-East India, a biodiversity hotspot, covering an area of 39,100 hectares. In the north it is bounded by the forests of Bhutan. The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is part of the core zone of the 283,700 hectares. Manas Tiger Reserve lies alongside the shifting river channels of the Manas River.

    The site’s scenic beauty includes a range of forested hills, alluvial grasslands and tropical evergreen forests. The site provides critical and viable habitats for rare and endangered species, including tiger, greater one-horned rhino, swamp deer, pygmy hog and Bengal florican. Manas has exceptional importance within the Indian sub-continent’s protected areas, as one of the most significant remaining natural areas in the region, where sizeable populations of a large number of threatened species continue to survive.

    The northern boundary of the park is contiguous to the international border of Bhutan manifested by the imposing Bhutan hills. The Manas-Beki system is the major river system flowing through the property and joining the Brahmaputra River further downstream. These and other rivers carry an enormous amount of silt and rock debris from the foothills.

    History of the Park:

    1905 :    Proposed Reserve Forest.

    1907 :    Manas Reserve Forest

    1928 :    Game Sanctuary.

    1950 :    Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (360 sq. kms)

    1973 :    Declared as Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger (2837 sq. kms).

    1985 :   Declared as World Heritage Site (Natural) by UNESCO for outstanding universal value.

    1989 :   Declared as Biosphere Reserve under Man & Biosphere Programme of UNESCO (2837 sq. kms).

    1990 :   Declared as National Park (500 sq. kms).

    2003:    Declared as Chirang – Ripu Elephant Reserve under Project Elephant (2600 sq. kms)

    2011:    “Danger” tag removed following the advice of IUCN, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.

    Location of The Park-

    The Manas National Park is located in the foothills of Eastern Himalayas in the Bhabar area of western Assam. The area of the park covers five districts of Assam, namely, Chirang, Kokrajhar, Darrang, Udalguri and Baska. The park has an area of 950 sq km and is at a height of 61 metres to 110 metres above mean sea level.

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    Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for-

    Manas is the only landscape in the world where pristine Terai Grasslands are seen merging with the Bhabar grasslands interspersed with diverse habitats ascending to Semi-Evergreen forests and then to Bhutan Himalayas. The Biodiversity is very rich here. The last population of the Pygmy Hog survives in the wilds of Manas only. 

    Tiger: Manas is very rich in the population of Royal Bengal Tigers. Presently the population of Tigers are counted up to 60. The Manas Sanctuary is famous for its Tiger Reserve and Elephant Reserve.

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    Bird life: The diverse habita of Manas is ideal home for specialized birds. Manas, possesses the largest population of the endangered Bengal Florican in the world and is also a great place to see the Great Hornbill. The National Park lists around 380 species of birds. Notable amongst are Greater Adjutant, Black-tailed Crake, Red-headed Trogo, Swamp Francolin, Wreathed and Rufous-necked Hornbill, Marsh and Jerdon’s Babbler, Rufous-rumped and Bristled Grassbirds, Hodgson’s Bush-chat, Rufous-ventec Laughingthrush, Finn’s Weaver, Ibis bill and variety of foothills species.

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    Vegetation:

    The main vegetation types are: i) Sub-Himalayan Light Alluvial Semi-Evergreen forests in the northern parts, ii) East Himalayan mixed Moist and Dry Deciduous forests (the most common type), iii) Low Alluvial Savanna Woodland, and iv) Assam Valley Semi-Evergreen Alluvial Grasslands which cover almost 50% of the Park.

    Much of the riverine dry deciduous forest is at an early successional stage. It is replaced by moist deciduous forest away from water courses, which is succeeded by semi-evergreen climax forest in the northern part of the park. A total of 543 plants species have been recorded from the core zone. Of these, 374 species are dicotyledons (including 89 trees), 139.

    Evergreen Forests:

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    Image courtesy: http://www.manasnationalpark.co.in/

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