The “last remaining stretches” of the Assam Valley tropical wet evergreen forests have become Assam’s seventh National Park.
The State government on Wednesday notified Dihing Patkai as a National Park, four days after creating the 422-sq. km Raimona National Park in western Assam’s Kokrajhar district.
Assam now has the third most National Parks after the 12 in Madhya Pradesh and nine in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, forest officials said.
The five older National Parks in the State are Kaziranga, Manas, Nameri, Orang and Dibru-Saikhowa.
Kaziranga and Manas are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They are also tiger reserves along with Nameri and Orang.
Major elephant habitat
The 234.26-sq. km Dihing Patkai straddling eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts is a major elephant habitat and 310 species of butterflies have been recorded there. The park has 47 species each of reptiles and mammals, including the tiger and clouded leopard.
Dihing Patkai, in focus a year ago for illegal coal mining in the vicinity, encompasses the erstwhile Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary, the Jeypore Reserve Forest and the western block of the Upper Dihing Reserve Forest.
“The forest village area diverted under Forest Conservation Act has been excluded. Short stretches of the Dirak and Buri Dihing rivers have been included in the park,” State Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said.
The newly-notified national park will be administered by the Soraipung Range of Digboi Forest Division and Jeypore Range of Dibrugarh Forest Division. Additional anti-poaching camps and manpower are being provided for intensive patrolling and conservation of the new park, the Minister said.
Raimona, on the other hand, will be administered by the Kachugaon Forest Division of Bodoland Territorial Council. The area was one of the oldest reserve forests of the State.
Raimona adjoins the Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal to its west, Phipsoo Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan to its north and the first addition to Manas National Park to the east.
11 forest types and subtypes
With 11 different forest types and subtypes, Raimona is home to the golden langur, elephant, tiger, clouded leopard and Indian gaur besides sustaining several species of orchids, more than 150 species of butterflies, 170 species of birds and 380 species of plants.
“Conservation of this area shall provide water security to more than 20 lakh people downstream in Kokrajhar and Dhubri district,” Mr. Suklabaidya said.