Fascinating History of Manas National Park: Conservation and Wildlife

The Manas National Park is a biosphere reserve for rare and endangered species of flora and fauna and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This region’s Manas River, a vital tributary of the Brahmaputra River, runs through it. Additionally, this park in India and Bhutan’s Royal Manas National Park border each other. The Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hares, Golden Langurs, and Pygmy Hooves are just a few unique and endangered animals that call the national park home. The Bansbari, Panbari, and Bhatapara mountain ranges are the three that make up the reserve. Manas National Park, a wildlife hotspot in India, receives excellent marks for its conservation efforts.

The Manas River, located in this national park, runs directly through its center. Alluvial terraces frequently consist of layers of deposited rock and detritus, followed by sand and a layer of organic material. Its Manas-Beki system is inundated by monsoon rainfall, albeit the inundation is brief due to the sloping relief. This region’s monsoon and river systems gave rise to the Bhabar savannah, Terai tract, marshlands, and riverine tracts. Get the full details about Manas National Park, which has an exciting conservation history.

History of Manas National Park

Manas National Park derives its name from the Manas River, a major tributary of the Brahmaputra River. The mighty Brahmaputra passes through the heart of Manas National Park. It was declared a wildlife sanctuary on October 1, 1928, with an area of under 360 square kilometers. Before it was considered a sanctuary, it was a reserved forest called “Manas Reserved Forest” and “North Kamrup Reserved Forest.”

Before that, the entire area was used as a hunting ground by the Cooch Behar Royal Family and the Raja of Gauripur. Later, in 1951 and 1955, the reserve area was increased to 391 square kilometers. UNESCO declared the site a World Heritage Site in December 1985. Manas National Park was formed in 1990 by adding the reserve forest areas Kahitama, Kokilabari, and Panbari. However, due to heavy poaching and terrorist activities, UNESCO declared it a “World Heritage Site in danger.” Later, in 2008, the parking area was increased to 950 square kilometers.

History of Indian Rhinos

The bigger one-horned rhinoceros, often known as the “great Indian rhinoceros” or “Indian rhino,” is a rhinoceros indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. Its scientific name is Rhinoceros unicornis. Since populations are dispersed and confined to less than 20,000 square kilometers, it is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List (7,700 sq mi).

The alluvial Terai-Duar savanna, grasslands, and riverine forest, the rhino’s most crucial habitat, are also declining in size and quality due to livestock and human encroachment. In August 2018, it was estimated that 3,588 rhinos lived on Earth, including 2,939 in India and 649 in Nepal.

In 2009, the number of rhinos in Kaziranga National Park was estimated at 2,048. With 84 individuals spread across 38.80 square kilometers (14.98 square miles), Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam has the highest concentration of Indian rhinos worldwide as of 2009.

The Indo-Gangetic Plain’s whole length was formerly home to the Indian rhinoceros. Nevertheless, overkill hunting and agricultural expansion dramatically restricted its range to just 11 locations in northern India and southern Nepal. As a result of the government’s conservation efforts, the numbers have increased. However, poaching continues to be dangerous because, between 2000 and 2006, poachers in Assam killed more than 150 Indian rhinos. Nearly 85% of the global Indian rhinoceros population is concentrated in Assam, where Manas National Park contains 15% of the rhino population.

Significance of Manas National Park

The park’s name is derived from the local god Manasa. This deity is the subject of many tales and folklore among the Manas. Feminine deities are of utmost significance in Shakti-Peetha. A few royal dynasties exploited the region as a hunting preserve, including the Cooch Behar and Gauripur Rajas. There are many other reasons to visit Manas National Park besides sighting the park’s animals. Rivers, the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GATC), a monastery, and a temple honoring Vaishnavite reformer Mahadeva are located within or close to Manas National Park.

Manas Conservation History

In 1960

More intensive management was begun in the 1960s. Careful, controlled burning in autumn is the most critical management tool to maintain the different habitats, especially the grasslands. It is both a traditional practice and one done to prevent devastation by intense wildfires. Management has always been oriented toward larger mammals, especially the tiger.

In 1963-1964

During the construction of the National Highway in 1963–1964, a significant amount of roadstone was removed from the area, but no further exploitation of any kind is now permitted. Plantations were created along the southern border as a buffer against agricultural encroachment, but this stopped in 1977. The Tiger Reserve’s surrounding buffer zone, run on a multiple-use basis, is exempt from the restrictions. There, residents can selectively remove timber, collect firewood, cultivate the land, graze their domestic livestock, and benefit from the inoculation of their cattle to prevent the transmission of diseases to wildlife. The Tiger Reserve, classified as a reserve forest, is located in the heart of the park. In the core area, the final authorized logging took place in 1964. Traditional hunting did not significantly impact wildlife before the Bodo invasion, but it was officially prohibited when the area was declared a sanctuary.

In 1972

By the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, the Assam Forest Department manages the National Park. However, its management was a low priority until the 1960s. Even so, it was protected by its inaccessibility from locals’ marginal encroachments and livestock grazing, which were removed during that decade at the expense of the community’s long-lasting resentment. 

In 2002

By 2002, staff was slowly reoccupying guard posts and re-establishing control. By mid-2002, a management plan was finalized, which set out an agenda for management-oriented research, a community outreach strategy, conservation and awareness programs, tourist activities, and infrastructure improvements (IUCN, 2002). Relations with the local villagers improved.

In 2003

Volunteer groups from the local NGOs Green Manas and Manas Bandhu slowly began to persuade local militants to help conserve. Camps and guard posts were rebuilt, allowing better management. The government included the reserve in Project Elephant and facilitated committees on participatory planning and economic development projects. The Bodo insurgents made a deal with the government and laid down their weapons in 2003 when their bordering insurgent bases in Bhutan became operational. They were granted autonomy in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). After considering the park their territory, they were persuaded to protect it against intruders and convince neighboring villagers to take the same attitude.

In 2005-2006

By 2005, it was possible to initiate ecotourism, and the local people were becoming involved in rebuilding the park’s infrastructure (UNESCO, 2005). In 2006, the state government released funding. New Park roads, bridges, buildings, and a wireless system were built, and five field stations were human-manned and armed. The park needed more staff and funding, adequate equipment and infrastructure, and a comprehensive conservation and interpretive strategy for local communities. However, due to the tribes’ cooperation, poaching declined, tourism gradually restarted, and it became possible to rebuild the park’s infrastructure (UNESCO, 2006).

In 2008

In 2008, 31 park camps had been renovated, and 7 more were scheduled to be finished as part of the rhino reintroduction program. In addition, 130 and 100 km of trails, as well as bridges, have been reopened. Former poachers even collaborated with the revival. However, it remained urgently necessary to conduct a baseline survey on the recovery of wildlife populations and set up a complete monitoring system for flagship species.

It was also essential to resolve the problem of releasing funds held back by the state (Debonnet & Lethier, 2008). By 2008, funds were, at last, available for the improvement of park management, building staff capacity, increasing local awareness, involvement, and sustainable development (UNESCO,2010)

One-Horned Rhino Conservation History

Very recently, a male and a female greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) were moved from the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to the Manas National Park in Assam. The translocation was carried out as part of the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020) program, an initiative run by the Forest Department of the Government of Assam in collaboration with WWF India, the International Rhino Foundation, and several other organizations, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, WTI, Aaranyak, and College of Veterinary Sciences, Guwahati, with support from the Bodoland Territorial Council and local communities.

The two rhinos traveled 181 km from Pobitora to the release location at Bansbari Range in Manas National Park. The rhinos were taken from the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and moved by established procedures under the watchful guidance of skilled veterinarians and rhino experts. Two sub-adult rhinos were moved from Kaziranga National Park’s Bagori area to Manas National Park in March 2020, and the translocation was organized a year later. A crucial step in the preservation of the species is the relocation of rhinos to Manas National Park.

Rhino Population in Manas National Park (2006-2019)
YearNo. of Rhinos
20063
20073
20085
20095
20107
201110
201222
201328
201430
201532
201628
201729
201834
201918

 

Timeline of Manas National Park
YearDetails
1905Reserve Forest in the proposal.
1907Forest Manas Reserve
1950Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (360 square kilometer)
1973Declared as Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger (2837 square kilometers).
1985UNESCO designated it a Natural World Heritage Site because of its exceptional value to everyone.
1989It was declared a biosphere reserve by the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme (2837 square kilometers).
1990Declared as a National Park (500 square kilometers).
2003Declared as Chirang – Ripu Elephant Reserve under Project Elephant (2600 square kilometers)
2011The “Danger” tag was removed following the advice of IUCN, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.

Manas is a sanctuary home to various species since it is a bio-geographical intersection of the Indo-Gangetic and Indo-Malayan regions. The Manas ecosystem includes both dry deciduous forests and alluvial grasslands. As you have read about the fascinating history of Manas National Park, you have learned about the different significant aspects of the park. So then, what are you waiting for? Plan your trip with us, as Manas National Park is a beautiful gateway destination for your loved ones.

So, contact Indian Visit for the best India wildlife tour packages to Manas National Park!

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