Raimona boost for Greater Manas Landscape protection
Notification of new National Park in Kokrajhar fulfilled recommendation of UNESCO World Heritage Site committee
The gazette notification of Raimona National Park in western Assam’s Kokrajhar district has boosted the protection of the Greater Manas Landscape besides fulfilling the recommendation of the UNESCO World Heritage Site committee, wildlife experts said.
The Assam government on June 9 and June 16 notified Raimona and Dehing-Patkai to take the State’s count of National Parks to seven. The others are Kaziranga, Manas, Nameri, Orang and Dibru-Saikhowa.
Kaziranga and Manas were declared World Heritage Sites in 1985. But while Kaziranga maintained its status and continued to upgrade, Manas slipped because of extremism-linked poaching and felling of trees before getting back on track a few years ago.
“The notification of Raimona National Park is of huge conservation significance, strengthening the Greater Manas Landscape,” said Vivek Menon, founder and executive director of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and senior adviser of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
The IFAW-WTI had conceptualised the Greater Manas Landscape more than a decade ago.
“The addition of 700 sq. km (including Raimona’s 422 sq. km) to India’s protected area network is due to proactive leadership in the Bodoland Territorial Region supported by the Assam government and the combined efforts of the community, NGOs and 15 years of consistent conservation action through IFAW-WTI’s work in bringing back Manas,” he said on June 16.
Raimona adjoins the Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal to the west, the Phipsoo Wildlife Sanctuary and Namgyal Wangchuk Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan to the north and Manas National Park to the east. This translates into more than 3,000 sq. km in the Greater Manas Landscape.
Wildlife officials in Assam said the notification of Raimona has helped fulfil the recommendations made by the UNESCO World Heritage Site committee in June 2011 for extension of the Manas World Heritage Site property in three States.
“The Bhutan wildlife sanctuaries contiguous to Raimona present the possibility of a transboundary peace park,” Mr. Menon said.
India and Bhutan have an arrangement for transboundary conservation of Manas, whose Bhutan part is called the Royal Manas National Park and covers 1,000 sq. km.
Pramod Boro, Chief Executive Member of the Bodoland Territorial Council, said Raimona’s high biodiversity with 11 different forest types and subtypes could be a boon for nature lovers. The National Park has a sizeable population of golden langur, elephant, tiger, clouded leopard, wild buffalo, and more than 150 species of butterflies, and 170 species of birds.