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Laokhowa & Burhachapori Wildlife Sanctuaries in Assam

The Laokhowa and Burhachapori wildlife sanctuaries are centrally located PAs (Protected Areas).

Location:

Both the forest reserves are located in the north-eastern Indian State of Assam.

Surroundings:

The two centrally protected sanctuaries are naturally bordered by five PAs and NPs (National Parks).
For instance, towards the east is the Kaziranga National Park; on the west are the Pobitora Wildlife sanctuary and the Orang National Park.
On the northern side is the Pakke-Nameri National Parks while on the southern side are the equally rich reserve forest areas of Karbi Anglong to the south.

Connecting Corridor:

Migrating animals generally utilise the Laokhowa and Burhachapori Wildlife Sanctuaries as natural connecting corridors.

Grasslands & Wetlands:

The Laokhowa Burhachapori characterized by grasslands, woodlands and numerous wetlands along with the Brahmaputra River Islands are home to numerous species of endangered mammals, reptiles and birds.

Khowa Wildlife Sanctuary:

The Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary is located on the south bank of river Brahmaputra in the north-eastern Indian State of Assam.

Area:

This protected wildlife reserve region stretches across approximately 70.13 sq km.

Ecosystem:

The sanctuary constitutes a vital section of the Laokhowa-Burachapori eco-system.

Buffer Region:

The Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary forms a declared buffer region of the Kazairanga Tiger Reserve.

Treasure Trove Of Flora & Fauna:

Both the declared protected areas enjoy a rich treasure trove of varied species of reptiles, flora and fauna including highly endangered ones.
The sanctuary is home to more than 225 species of avians, besides the great Indian one horned rhinoceros, royal Bengal tigers, elephants, and the Asiatic water buffaloes.
Environmentalists have also recorded the presence of quite a number of species of various other animals in the sanctuary.
Mention may be made of the leopard cat, barking deer, wild pig, fishing cat, and civet.

Breeding Ground:

Moreover, the Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary is also a breeding ground for more than 39 species of fishes, and 14 reptile species.

The alluvial grassland of Laokhowa-Burachapori wildlife sanctuaries also have among others the hog deer and barking deer as well as nocturnal species like the hare, slow loris, pangolins, and porcupine among others.

Above all, many endangered and rare species (with a number of them listed under the Schedule I species category within the Wildlife Protection Act-1972) are found in the two sanctuaries.

Among them are the civets, small cats, and otters, reptiles like the turtles, common and water monitors, and the pythons.

There are various species of turtles in the two sanctuaries. These are the Indian Roofed, Assam Roofed, Soft shelled, and the Peacock Softshelled Turtles. These two Protected Areas abound in butterflies like the Common Map, Birdwing, and the Crimson Rose.

The numerous perennial and natural wetlands serve as breeding grounds for quite a number of local fish species and also stork species like the Adjutant, Lesser Adjutant, White Stork, Black Stork, and the Black Necked Stork.
The Laokhowa-Burachapori wildlife sanctuaries are exotic to the Herons, Large Whistling Teal, numerous Raptors, grassland birds including the highly endangered Bengal Florican. Every winter, many species of migratory birds, including water fowls also visit the rich wetlands of both the ‘Protected Areas’.

Flocks of vultures do visit the sanctuaries to feast on the remains of deceased animals. One often comes across frolicking river dolphins on the surface of Brahmaputra waters. The river dolphins are highly endangered species.

The Brahmaputra River flows adjacent to the ‘Burhachapori Wildlife Sanctuary’.

The writer — Nilutpal Gogoi is an entrepreneur, senior journalist, writer, translator (from Assamese to English & vice versa), avid traveller, British English Accent & grammar trainer, educationist, and martial arts (Taekwondo) practitioner.

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Assam Tourism

Kakoijana Reserve Forest Home for Endangered Golden Langur in Assam

Kakoijana Reserve Forest: The Kakoijana RF (Reserve Forest) is known for the endangered golden langur. This widely extensive ‘Protected Area’ is situated near Abhayapuri in Bongaigaon District of the north-eastern Indian State of Assam.

The ‘Protected Area’ comes under the Aie Valley Division.

Area:

The forest in upper Assam stretches across 17.24 sq km.
Of late, there have been demands from the local public as well as environmentalists and NGOs (non-government organisations) to convert and upgrade the Kakoijana RF as a wildlife sanctuary.

Petition Filed:

A petition was also filed in the Gauhati High Court demanding that the Government of Assam should declare the ‘Kakoijana Reserved Forest’ as a wildlife sanctuary.

Kakoijana Reserve Forest

Golden Langurs:

The Kakoijana RF (Reserved Forest) consists of approximately 60 numbers of the endangered ‘Golden Langurs’ besides several endangered species registered in Schedule I.
The ‘Golden langur’ is listed in the category of “rare species” in the Red Data Book of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
Many researchers have carried out studies on primate species in this Reserved Forest.

Other Endangered Species:

The Reserved Forest is home to some of the highly endangered and rarest avian species including the Binturong, Pangolin, Jungle Fowl, and Hornbill, besides leopard, python, porcupine.
The ‘Protected Area’ is also known for the Lesser Adjutant, Stork, Monitor Lizard, Flying Squirrel, Barking Deer, Mongoose, Jungle Cat, Civets, and wild cat.

Tracing The Tracks:

The authorities concerned demarcated the forest area and declared it as ‘Kakoijana Reserved Forest’ in 1966.

The writer — Nilutpal Gogoi is an entrepreneur, senior journalist, writer, translator (from Assamese to English & vice versa), avid traveller, British English Accent & grammar trainer, educationist, and martial arts (Taekwondo) practitioner.

Categories
Assam Tourism

Kaziranga National Park a World Heritage Site in Assam

The Kaziranga National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site. The authorities concerned declared the vast bio-diverse area as a ‘National Park’ in 1974.

Nomenclature:

The nomenclature of ‘Kaziranga’ has been adopted from the name of a Karbi ruler. According to Karbi mythology, she ruled in this area during the ancient times.

Location:

This famous Park lies between latitude 26 degree 30N to 26 degree 45N and longitude 93 degree 08 E to 93 degree36 E. The Kaziranga National Park stretches across two districts in the north-eastern Indian State of Assam. A section of this protected area is in Bokakhat Sub-division of Golaghat District whereas the other part falls in Kaliabor subdivision of Nagaon District.

Boundaries:

Towards the northern side of this forest reserve flows the Brahmaputra River while the undulating hills of Karbi Anglong District form its southern boundary

Weather:

During winter, the Kaziranga National Park experiences maximum temperature of 26 degree Celsius and minimum temperature of 10 degree Celsius. On the other hand, during summer, the maximum temperature rises to 37 degree Celsius while the minimum temperature drops to 22 degree Celsius.

Speciality:

Kaziranga National Park Rhino and her calf cross a road

The national park is known as the natural habitat of the Great Indian one-horned rhinoceros. In fact, the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses resides within the park. This protected park is spread across approximately 430 sq km is home to two-third of the global rhino population.

Varied Species Of Animals:

Besides, the natural park has varied species of other animals including mammals like bears, elephants, panthers and tigers. Moreover, environmentalists and foresters have recorded the presence of large numbers of wild Asiatic water buffaloes, and elephants. Moreover, the park is home to the Indian Muntjac, and also the hog and swamp deer. Sambars and gaurs are two other species of animals that inhabit the park. A Tiger Reserve has been also identified inside the ‘Protected Area’. The Brahmaputra River flowing beside the park further attracts the highly endangered Ganges Dolphin.

Swamp Deer Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga: An Avian Paradise

The ‘Protected Area’ of Kaziranga National Park is an ‘Avian (birds) paradise’. Avians of many species dwell here. The ‘Birdlife International for conservation of avifaunal species’ has already demarcated a wide stretch of this park as an ‘Important Bird Area’. The park has more than 300 species of avian species.

Picturesque Landscape:

The sanctuary is blessed with Besides the picturesque landscape the park is endowed with varied wildlife species. It is also a treasure trove of flora and fauna. Hemmed by the lovely table-top tea bushes of a number of tea estates, the National Highway-37 unequally parts a significant part of the idyllic landscape of the park. Often, rhinos, deer, and wild elephants stray into the highway. The lovely landscape of Kaziranga comprises shallow pools and marshes, as well as rugged reeds, tall elephant grass, and also forest areas.

Tourist Destination:

The Kaziranga National Park attracts tourists both from within the country and abroad. The park remains open for visitors for six months, from November to April. The bird-watching points within. Kaziranga National Park attracts tourists.

Safaris:

The prime attractions for tourists include the safaris — on elephants and in open-source jeeps. During the safaris, the tourists are taken around selected areas of the park.

Boat Cruises:

One can further opt for boat cruises on the Brahmaputra along the park. Besides being exhilarating, the cruises offer a quick glance on the evergreen environ of the park.

THE ‘Kohora Chowk’:

The ‘Kohora Chowk’ is an important bird-watching point. Tourists invariably visit this spot.

Tracing The Tracks:

Up to the early part of 19th Century, the forested region presently identified as the ‘Kaziranga National Park’ was naturally open to the vagaries of nature.

Monsoon, Erosion & Poaching In Kaziranga

Large portions of the forest are eroded by the annual floods especially during the monsoon season when the State experiences torrential rainfall. The monsoon rain lashes the region from the later part of March onwards. The rain continues sporadically till August. To flee from the rising water of the Brahmaputra and it’s tributaries, the hapless animals migrate to the safer highlands in Karbi Anglong. At times, deer and other small animals die while crossing the highway due to rash driving by unscrupulous drivers. This is despite the Forest department’s signboards and vigil to check such drivers. Nowadays, the Government has has undertaken various measures to arrest such erosion and also reclaim such eroded portions.

One-horned Rhinoceros Kaziranga

Poaching:

Poachers were quite active in the region till the early part of the 2000. The poachers primarily target the endangered one-horned rhinoceros (for the horn), and the elephants (for the tusk). Bear and other mammals like tigers, reptiles, and even rare birds used to fall prey to the sinister designs of poachers.

Countering Poachers:

To counter the poachers, the Government of Assam has involved the local people as sentinels of the park. This strategy has worked tremendously. Moreover, the authorities concerned have modernised the Forest guards, who maintain strict vigil round the clock. The guards are equipped with thee latest forms of weapons

Forest Ranges:

The Kazaringa National Park has two important forest ranges. These are the Bagori and Burapahar Ranges. Both the ranges of this ‘Protected Area’ are located within the district of Nagaon.

Online Safari Bookings For Kaziranga

Kaziranga Safari

The Kaziranga National Park offers both jeep and elephant safaris to the tourists for exploring and sighting of the varied wild life. Both the (jeep and elephant) safaris allow the tourists not only to enjoy the picturesque environ of the park but also witness the animals and birds in their natural habitat. The Kaziranga Forest department administers and manages the process by strictly following the set guidelines.

Online Booking For Safaris:

One can easily opt for online booking for safaris (both jeep and elephant) in the Kaziranga National Park. Similarly, the tourists should check the official website of the park and book accommodation in lodges. Of course, there are private accommodation facilities quite near the park. Mentionably, one can go for online jeep-safari booking in all the four tourism zones in the Kaziranga National Park.

Tourism Zones:

The four tourism zones are Kohora, Bagori, Burapahar, and Agartoli. However, the Kaziranga National Park authority allows elephant-safari booking only for the two zones of Bagori and Kohora. All the four zones in Kaziranga National Park have beautiful landscape. Moreover, each of them is endowed with varieties species of flora and fauna.

Advance Booking:

While planning your trip to the park, remember to book your online safari seat(s) well in advance. In this way, the tourists can counter last-minute rush for such bookings.

The Charges:

You will have to pay the full amount. The safari-booking charges include the entry-permit fee, the safari- vehicle fare, and also the guide fee.

Safari Routes:

The safaris proceed via safe picturesque routes that are already charted out within the national park.

Allowed Passengers:

In a single ride, a jeep (offered by the forest department of Kaziranga National Park) used for safari can accommodate the maximum number of six people. It includes the driver and the guide as well. However, only four persons are allowed in an elephant safari.

Safari Timings:

The timings of safari routes in Kaziranga have been carefully decided upon so that the tourists can spot the wild animals (grazing or frolicking or resting) in their natural surroundings.

Kaziranga: Videography, Photography & Entry Rules

One can go for videography only with prior permission of the Kaziranga National Park authority. However, tourists can click photographs of the sylvan surroundings.

Prime Attractions:

The prime attractions of Kaziranga National Park are the highly endangered one-horned Indian rhinoceros, Indian elephant, tigers, swamp deer and the water buffalo.
Besides, each of the four zones of the Park also preserves various other wild lives. Tourists enjoy spotting the wild animals as well as the mesmerizing beauty of Mother Nature while proceeding in the jeep and elephant safaris. One of the best wildlife destinations in India, the trip to the Kaziranga National Park remains etched in the memory of tourists.

Permit Probabilities:

The entry permit for the jeep safari is depends upon the availability of the vehicles. On the other hand, the permit for elephant-safari ride is based on the basis of per seat.

Safari-Booking Procedure:

The Park authority issues permits for the safaris on a first-come-first service basis but subject to availability. Tourists will have to follow a procedure while making online safari booking in the Kaziranga National Park. They must share the following details with the Park authority: The full name, age, and gender as well as the other details enumerated on their respective identity cards. Besides, they need to mention their preferred trip date and also opt for either of the fixed safari timings (Morning/Afternoon). They will also have to state the specific ID card tourist number as mentioned in any of these documents, namely Aaadhar No., Voter ID, Driving License among others.

Mandatory Rules For Foreign Tourists:

For making online safari booking in Kaziranga, the foreign tourists must provide all the details recorded in their passports.

Kaziranga: Basic Facts About Online Safari Booking

  • You must know the following basic facts before opting for the online safari booking in the Kaziranga National Park:
  • The Park management governs the rules and procedures of online safari booking;
  • You will have to pay the entire fees to make advance online safari booking; You cannot cancel or transfer the entry permit for safari ride once it is issued by the Forest department of the National Park; You must keep with you the same ID card which you had submitted while making your online safari booking; The tourist must pay the charged amount in advance for booking the safaris.
  • After the Park management confirms the ‘Safari Permit’, one cannot claim refund against the e-permits.
  • This is because the e-permits are non -refundable.
  • The Park authority allows only those registered vehicles and guides that are allowed for the safari rides.
  • The Park management allot the vehicles and guides randomly; and tourists cannot change them.
  • Safari permit to the tourists is issued on a first-come-first basis depending upon the availability of the safari.
  • The Kaziranga Forest department has full right to decide closure of the park owing to unavoidable reasons. Hence, the Park may be closed at times of exigency without prior notice to the visitors;
  • If the Park authority decides to revise the safari fees even after one makes the online safari booking, then you will have to pay the difference amount while entering the park.
  • You must report at the safari-boarding spot 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time.
  • The Park conducts only two shifts of Safari rides, i.e., in the morning and evening.
  • Tourists cannot enter the Park after sunset since it is prohibited by law.
  • It is not legitimate to get down from the vehicles during their safari ride.
  • The tourists cannot take their pets into the Kaziranga National Park.
  • Last but not the least, tourists must co-operate with the officials of Kaziranga Forest department to maintain law and order.

Formalities Prior To Entering The National Park:

Tourists must possess the entry permit before entering the Kaziranga National Park as it is a completely restricted and protected zone under TRA (Tiger Reserve Area). You must possess the official safari permit to enjoy both the kinds of safari ride namely, Jeep safari and Elephant safari. The safaris are conducted strictly following the rules and regulations of the Park Forest department. The duration of each safari ride is fixed. The safari charges include jeep/elephant safari fares, driver/Mahuout fees as well as the entry-permit charges.

How The Park Came Into Being:

There is an interesting story as to how the park came into c. The history of Kaziranga as a protected area traces back to 1904, when Mary Victoria Leiter, the wife of the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, visited the area.

It so happened that once while visiting the area she did not see even a single rhinoceros there. Then, Lady Curzon urged her husband to propose a means to protect these exotic pachyderms in their natural habitat.

Mary Victoria Leiter’s Contribution:

Mary Victoria Leiter was the wife of Lord Curzon — the Viceroy of India. She is credited with starting the movement for rhinoceros conservation.

Initially, the Kaziranga National Park was set up as a ‘Proposed Reserve Forest’.

PRE-INDEPENDENCE ERA: It is said that owing to her request, the region came into being as the ‘Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest’ in June 1905.
During those times, the park measured approximately 90 square miles (232 square km).

Of course since then, the park continued to expand. During the course of the following three years, the park area expanded to around 150 square miles (380 square km), stretching up to the Brahmaputra River.

Notably it was also during that time that the area was declared as a ‘reserve forest’.
In 1916, the authorities declared the protected region as the ‘Kaziranga Game Sanctuary’. They also allowed hunting within the park until 1938, when it was banned officially.

Post-Independence Era:

During the post-Independence era when in the 1950s the country became a ‘Democratic Republic’ (after the Constitution of India came into force), the government renamed the park area as the ‘Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary’.

This move was undertaken as the original name referring to it as a “game reserve” became a misnomer particularly because hunting was disallowed in that area.
In 1954, the Government of Assam passed the Assam (Rhinoceros) Bill. It imposed heavy penalties for poaching of rhinoceros.
Fourteen years later in 1968, the State government passed the ‘Assam National Park Act’, thereby upgrading Kaziranga as a designated national park. However, the announcement was published in the Gazette six years later, i.e, in 1974.

Unesco Heritage Site:

Finally in 1985, the UNESCO (United Nations Education Scientific & Cultural Organisation) included Kaziranga in its list of ‘World Heritage Site’.
Now, the local residents along with the conservationists including the Forest personnel staunchly protect the entire park area.

Measurement:

The park measures around 25 miles (40 km) from its eastern edge to the west, and 8 miles (13 km) from it’s northern side to the south. Overall, the park stretches across an area of 146 square miles (378 sq km).

Topography:

The topography if Kaziranga park is generally flat. There is not much difference in it’s elevation.
The Brahmaputra flows along both the eastern and northern edges whereas the southern edge has the Mora Diphlu River.
As the park is surrounded by rivers, there are quite a number of sandbars. The rich silty soil is heavy in nature.

Monsoon Landscape:

Many temporary ponds and lakes form a part of the landscape features especially during the monsoon season when heavy rains lash the State. These wet months usually commence around the middle part of April and continue till around the fag end of August and early part of September.

‘SAPORIES’: During these six months, the wild animals seek refuge in what is known in Assamese as the “sapories”. Such riverine islands are the naturally formed raised areas inside the park. They offer safety for animals during this flooding season.

Vegetation:

Leaving aside the sandbars and lowlands, the entire Brahmaputra Valley abounds in subtropical, tropical forests marked by moist broadleaf forests and also savanna shrub lands and grasslands.
These are besides the semi-evergreen forests that are found in the areas of higher elevation.

THE ‘BigGoFpq OF KAZIRANGA:

The park is internationally prominent for the ‘Big Five’ — the Rhinoceros (2,613 nos), Tiger (116 nos), Elephant (1,165 nos), Asiatic Wild Buffalo and the Eastern Swamp Deer (1,148 nos).

The Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros:

The Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve is globally known especially as a natural habitat of the Great Indian one-horned rhinoceros.
In fact, the largest population of this pachyderm — the largest of the rhino species — is concentrated within this park.

‘RED DATA BOOK’: This rhino species is included in the list of highly endangered animals of rhe ‘Red Data Book’ of IUCN.

Sentinels:

Strong involvement in the conservation efforts and vigil of local communities have gone a long way in checking rhino poaching, which was a major issue prior to 2016.
Incidentally, during the annual monsoon-time, rhinos and many other wild animals die in the floods that inundate the park.
All in all, concerted moves of the government, sincere efforts of the Forest personnel added to the dedication of local residents have safeguarded the park. Such joint actions have also played a pivotal role in maintaining the growing population of rhinoceros within the protected area of rhis park.

14th Rhino Census Operation:

To smoothly carry out the three-day 14th census of the one-horned rhinos, the authorities closed the Kaziranga National Park for tourists from March 26 (Saturday) to March 28 (Monday), 2022.

Though morning elephant safari rides were suspended from March 26 to 28, jeep safaris rides continued in a phased manner so as not to hamper the rhino census.
The census was conducted in 48 compartments within the the national park premises.

A total of 63 specialists carried out the census in the park.

The other members who took part in the rhino-counting operation included a team of officials of the State Forest department, and volunteers.

Since Kaziranga is in news due to the incessant killing of rhinos in recent years, census is important to know the actual figure of rhinos in the park.

To conduct the 2022 rhino census, the entire park was divided into 74 compartments. Of them, the census was completed in 36 compartments on the first day while the rest was done the next day.

Talking Heads:

Making public the findings of Census-2022 on March 29 (Tuesday), a forest official in Kaziranga said, “This is a delightful moment for all of us as the number has gone up by 200. We believe that the news about rise in population of the rhinos will attract more tourists to Kaziranga,” added the Forest official.

The Director of Kaziranga National Park, Jatindra Sarma said in a statement that a total of 64 enumerators including 12 independent observers and 49 media observers were part of the exercise in 26 compartments selected randomly for the sample survey.

“As many as 50 elephants and 252 frontline staff were engaged to cover the 84 compartments spread over Kaziranga National Park, its additions and civil areas.
“GPS binoculars were also given to the enumerators while drones were used for the first time for sample recheck,” stated Sarma in the statement.

The last rhino census in 2018 found an increase of a dozen individuals over the 2015 figure.

“A total of 150 people including support staff members were engaged in the exercise which is being carried out in all the additions of the park,” said Divisional Forest Officer of Kaziranga National Park, Rohini Ballav Saikia.
Saikia also informed that they focused on extensive use of GPS to find out which tracks are frequently used by rhinos for their movement.

2022 Rhino Census Data:

The number of one-horned rhinos at Kaziranga National Park in Assam has increased by 200 in the last four years.
The 2022 census shows that there are a total of 2,613 rhinos within the protected area.
The 2018 rhino census registered 2,413 pachyderms in the national wildlife park.
According to the 2022 census that concluded on March 29, altogether 903 female adult rhinos were found. The census further recorded 146 calves in the park.
The 14th Rhino Census-2022 was carried out between March 25 and 28 across the 900-odd sq km wildlife park.
The census indicated 1,670 adults (above six years), 365 sub-adults (3 to 6 years), 279 juveniles (1 to 3 years) and 146 calves (0 to 1 year).
The adult rhinos included 750 males, 903 females, and 17 “un-sexed,” which means their gender could not be ascertained during the census.

A Success Story:

Internationally, this estimate is a major improvement in comparison to the previous decades when the rhinoceros in general was hunted and also poached to such an extent that experts and environmentalists estimated only 200 existed in the earlier part of the 20th Century.

Following stringent protection rules and conservation efforts on a mission mode by Nepal and also India, approximately 3,700 rhinos existed in the wilderness as of 2021.

This effort has been deemed the greatest success of any conservation effort across Asia. Conservation has been a major success story in Kaziranga, and this is particularly so with respect to all the wildlife species including the Royal Bengal tiger and also the Great One-horned Indian Rhinoceros.

Bengal Tiger:

The Bengal tiger is a subspecies of the Continental Tiger.
It is a big cat that generally found in the Asian mainland. Tigers, and particularly the species of Bengal tiger, is listed as endangered, and their populations have been generally decreasing over the past decades.
According to the WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) records in 2021, there were an estimated 3,500 continental tigers in the wilderness.
However, poaching as well as loss of habitat led to a drastic slide of this wildcat species.
Nevertheless, conservation areas including those in Kaziranga have played a significant role in the upkeep of this species.
Incidentally, the Government of Assam declared the Kaziranga National Park as a ‘Tiger Reservation area’ in 2006.
During this time, the region registered the highest concentration of Bengal tigers anywhere in the world.
Official estimates pegged it at 1 per 5 sq km, and a population of 118.

Swamp Deer & Asiatic Water Buffaloes:

Further, the Kaziranga National Park has the largest populations of the eastern swamp deer — besides other deer species — as well as the Asiatic water buffalo in the world.

Elephants:

Moreover, herds of wild Indian elephants also are frequent visitors to the park.
Of course, you can book safaris on domesticated pachyderms sponsored by the Kaziranga park authorities.

Other Animals:

Among other animals and herbivores found in the protected area are the sloth bear, varieties of boar, and also jungle cats including leopard cat, fishing cats, leopards, the golden jackal, Bengal fox, and of course, the Bengal tiger.

Researchers and environmentalists have also tracked various other animal species in Kaziranga. These include the civets and various species of mongoose — both are varieties of the highly poached Indian and Chinese pangolin.

Primates:

Foresters have further identified nine types of primates in the park.
These include the Assamese macaque, golden langur and the capped langur.

Other Rare Species:

Among the other rare species found in Kaziranga National Park & Tiger Reserve are the endangered hispid hare, and the Ganges dolphin. This dolphin lives in freshwater river. It is found in South Asia. This species is also listed as endangered.

There are also a wide diversity of avian species besides amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates within the protected area.

The writer — Nilutpal Gogoi is an entrepreneur, senior journalist, writer, translator (from Assamese to English & vice versa), avid traveller, British English Accent & grammar trainer, educationist, and martial arts (Taekwondo) practitioner.

Categories
Assam Tourism

Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary located in Jorhat, Assam, India

The Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary was earlier known as the Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary and also as Hollongapar Reserved Forest.

Nomenclature & Significance Of Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary:

The Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary derives its name from the Hollong tree and Hoolock gibbons.
The Sanctuary is a natural treasure house of the Hollong tree (Dipterocarpus macrocarpus) in its upper canopy.
The sanctuary is also home to the Hoolock gibbons – the only gibbons of India.
Since ages, the area has been covered by sporadic evergreen trees as well a Bojal bamboos (Pseudodactylum sp.).

The Central & Lower Canopies:

The central canopy of Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary houses the Nahar (Mesua ferrea) tree. The lower canopy of the Sanctuary has a carpet of evergreen herbs and shrubs.

Location:

The forests of Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary are located in Jorhat a district in the north-eastern Indian State of Assam.

Nearest City:

The city nearest to the Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary is Jorhat. The Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary is bordered by tea gardens and small villages.

Coordinates: The Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary is located at 26.716667°N and 94.383333°E.

Area:

The surveyed area of Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary is 2,098.62 ha (8.1 sq mi).

Rainfall:

The ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ receives 249 cm (98 in) of rainfall on an average annually.

Altitude & Topography:

Located at an altitude between 330 and 390 ft (100 and 120 m), the topography of the ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ gradually slopes downwards from the southeast direction towards northwest.

The Three Distinct Habitat Zones Of ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’

Over the ages, river Bhogdoi has formed a waterlogged region along the border of the ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’.
This waterlogged portion in the sanctuary primarily houses semi-hydrophytic plants. This particular aspect has led to the formation of three distinctly identifiable micro-ecosystems or habitat zones within the ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’. These are the the flood-prone zone, the down-slope zone, and the up-slope zone.

‘Reserve Forest’ Status:

The Government demarcated this isolated forest area in 1881.
That very year, the authorities concerned declared the portion as protected; and named it as the ‘Hollongapar Reserve Forest’.
During those times, the reserve forest stretched up to the foothills of Patkai mountain range.

The ‘Artificial Regeneration’ Move:

During the early 1900s, the authorities launched a concerted drive for artificial regeneration of the reserve forest.
This drive on a mission mode delivered results and the reserve forest regenerated into a well-stocked forest. Consequently, there was significant development in the rich biodiversity of Gibbon Reserve Forest.

Artificial Regeneration:

Artificial regeneration was introduced .
This concerted attempt was aimed at developing an even-aged well-stocked forest across the Gibbon Reserve Forest way back in 1924.

Latest Status:

These artificial plantations juxtaposed with the naturally generated vegetation slowly but surely germinated a new and richly endowed ser of flora in the forest.
Now, the Gibbon Reserve Forest is endowed with rich and varied biodiversity.
During the 1900s, additional areas were added to the Gibbon Reserve Forest.

Reconstitution Of The ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’:

The Reserve Forest (RF) was reconstituted and renamed as the ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ in 1997.
By 1997, the aggregate area of the Gibbon Reserve Forest came around to 2,098.62 ha (8.1 sq mi).

Looming Threats To Hollongapar Forests

The habitat of ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ faces threats owing to three specific aspects.
These aspects are habitat fragmentation, illegal encroachments and logging.
Unfortunately, since 1881, the widely extensive area of the forest got fragmented.
What is more, trees were felled by unscrupulous people and the surrounding areas were encroached upon.

Tracing The Tracks Of Hollongapar Forests

It was during a primate aurvey in the later part of 1980s that environmentalists and foresters recognised the Hollongapar forests as a promising wildlife sanctuary.
Taking forward the findings to their logical conclusions, the authorities declared the area as protected.

‘Reserve Forest’ Status:

On August 27,1881, the protected forest area attained the status of a ‘Reserve Forest’ (RF).
During those days, the area of ‘Hollongapar Reserve Forest’ encompassed 206 ha or (0.80 sq mi).
The researchers considered the reserve forest as an “integral part” of forests at the foothills of the Patkai mountain range.

At that time, the Hollongapar Reserve Forest served as a vital link to a large forest tract stretching up to the northeastern Indian State of Nagaland.

Hollongapar Bibbon Wildlife

Shrinking Area:

Though on August 27,1881, the protected area of Hollongapar Reserve Forest was 206 ha (0.80 sq mi), the area shrank in 1896 as certain sections were de-reserved.
Nowadays, the sanctuary is surrounded by small villages, and tea gardens.

Fragmentation:

The forest got fragmented while the reserve became isolated from the foothills primarily owing to two reasons: emergence of tea gardens and new villages around the Hollongapar Reserve Forest.

The tea gardens began to emerge between 1880 and 1920, while the villages were established during the 1960s.

The government set up the villages for rehabilitation of people who had lost their lands to floods in the perennially erosion-threatened Majuli and adjoining areas.

As on date, the sanctuary is fragmented into five clearly demarcated segments.

The ‘Gibbon Sanctuary, Melen’

On July 30, 1997, the Government of Assam issued a notification (FRS 37/97/31) and constituted the sanctuary as the ‘Gibbon Sanctuary, Meleng’
This sanctuary was located within Jorhat (civil) district of upper Assam.
The name – Gibbon Sanctuary, Meleng’ – has been derived from the gibbons (genus Hoolock), that is the only species of apes found in India.
This move assumes significance since this forest is the sole sanctuary in India named after a primate.
The distinction of ‘Gibbon Sanctuary, Meleng’ lies in the fact that these forests are home to a dense population of the gibbons (genus Hoolock).

The ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’:

On May 25, 2004, the Government of Assam renamed it as the “Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary” through notification no. FRP 37/97/20.

Surrounding Region:

The region surrounding ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ constitutes the dispersal track of elephants. This range of the endangered Asiatic elephants stretches up to the Dissoi Reserve Forest, Dissoi Valley Reserve Forest, and the Tiru Hill Reserve Forest.

The Asiatic Elephant:

The Asiatic elephant is also known as the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus).
This pachyderm is the only living species of the genus ‘Elephas’ is generally found across Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent (from India in the west, Borneo in the east, Nepal in the north, and Sumatra in the south.
The average lifespan of an Asiatic elephant is 48 years (Adult, In captivity, European population)
Included in the ‘Order’: ‘Proboscidea’, the mass of an adult Asiatic elephant ranges from 2,700 kg to 4,000 kg (Adult). It’s average height (at shoulder) varies from 2.4 m to 2.8 m.

The Surrounding Villages:

The villages neighboring ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ are Kaliagaon, Afolamukh, Velleoguri, Pukhurai, Katonibari,
Fesual B (the eastern part), Fesual A (the western part), Rampur, Lakhipur, and Madhupur.

The Elephant Range & Tea Estates:

The distance between the ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ and the nearest forests along the Assam-Nagaland border including the Dissoi Valley Reserve Forest is spanned by three tea gardens.
These extensive tea gardens are managed by the tea estates of, Hollonguri, Kothalguri, and Dissoi.
The tea gardens include Katonibari, Murmurai, Chenijan, Koliapani, Meleng, Kakojan, Dihavelleoguri, Dihingapar, Kothalguri, Dissoi and Hoolonguri.

Classification, Biota & Habitat Of ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’

The ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ is classified as “Assam plains alluvial semi-evergreen forests” along with some patches of wet evergreen forest.

Flora & Fauna:

The ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ possesses quite a rich and varied treasure trove of biodiversity besides being the sole home to the only apes in India – the western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock) and also the only nocturnal primate found in the northeast Indian States, the Bengal slow loris (Nycticebus bengalensis).

Other Primates:

Among the other primates identified in the ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ are the capped langur (Trachypithecus pileatus), stump-tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides), eastern Assamese macaque (Macaca assamensis assamensis), northern pig-tailed macaque (Macaca leonina), and the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta).
Environmentalists, foresters, and researchers carrying out field studies and animal censuses inside the ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ have also tracked other small and large animals including elephants, those from the cat family like jungle cats (Felis chaus), and Indian leopards (Panthera pardus).
The ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ also has, among others, the wild boar (Sus scrofa) as well as four types of squirrels, and three types of civet.

Birds & Snakes:

The ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ is home to approximately 219 bird species and also several types of snake.

Butterflies:

Environmentalists have further recorded 211 species of butterflies in the ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’.

Extirpation:

There are unfortunately reports that the tiger (Panthera tigris) is now extirpated in the ‘Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’.
The term ‘Extirpation’ (also known as ‘local extinction’) refers to the typical scenario when the population of a species ceases to exist across a particular geographical location.

Hoolock Gibbons:

The hoolock gibbons are three primate species of the genus ‘Hoolock hoolock’ in the gibbon family, Hylobatidae.
The hoolock gibbons are native to Northeast India, Myanmar, Southwest China, and eastern Bangladesh. Wikipedia
The scientific name of hoolock gibbon is ‘Hoolock’. Falling in the genus of ‘Hoolock hoolock’, it’s order is ‘Primates’.
The family of this species is ‘Hylobatidae’ and ‘Phylum’ is Chordata.
The ‘Kingdom’ of ‘hoolock gibbons’ is ‘Animalia’; and it’s Infraorder is ‘Simiiformes’.

Bengal Slow Loris:

The endangered ‘Bengal slow loris’ remains restricted to just some isolated populations.
This being of the ‘N. bengalensis’ species in the ‘Strepsirrhini’ Suborder’ and ‘Lorisidae’ family is facing serious threat.
It is almost becoming locally extinct in certain areas of the north-eastern Indian States of Assam and Meghalaya.
Similarly grave is their situation In Arunachal Pradesh, where the population of ‘Bengal slow loris’ is fast declining.

Flora Of ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’

Generally, evergreen vegetation is found inside the ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’. The evergreen vegetation is found in multiple layers that spread like a canopy

Lower Canopy:

Varieties of evergreen herbs and shrubs make up the ground layers and the lower canopy of the ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’.
The common evergreen herbs and shrubs found in the sanctuary include bamboo (Pseudostachyum polymorphum p.), Dolu bamboo (Teinosstachyum dullooa), Houka bet (Calamus spp.), Kaupat (Phrynium imbricatum), Tora (Alpinia allughas), and Sorat (Laported cremulata).

Central Canopy:

The central canopy of ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ is dominated by the Nahor (Mesua ferrea) with its spreading crown that casts a handsomely heavy shade over an extensive area.
The other species that make up the central canopy of ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ include the Dhuna (Conarium resiniferum), Bandordima (Dysoxylum procerum), Bhomora (Terminalia belerica), Bonbogri (Pterospermum lanceafolium), Ful Gomari (Gmelina sp.), Morhal (Vatica lanceafolia), Sassi (Aqualari agolacha), Selleng (Sapium baccatum), and Otenga (Dillenia indica).

Upper Canopy:

The upper canopy of ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ is mostly comprised of Dipterocarpus macrocarpus with straight trunks that rises from 39 ft to 98 ft (12 m to 30 m).
Among the other species found in the upper canopy of ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ are Amari (Amoora wallichi), Sam (Artocarps chaplasha), Bhelu (Tetramels mudiflora), Sopas (Mcheliai spp.), Hingori (Castanopsis spp.) and Udal (Sterculia villosa).

Conservation Vis-A-Viz Tea Gardens:

A geographic barrier for migrating animals has been formed by the numerous tea gardens that surround the ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’.
This barrier has isolated the sanctuary.
What is more, the rising populations of workers in these tea gardens has also posed a threat to the habitat of ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’.
This is particularly so as most of them depend on the forest for their traditional medicines, food and firewood.
Moreover, they cut significant quantities of grass and and leaves from the forests to feed their cattle.
Another disturbing factor is that pesticides and herbicides from several neighbouring tea gardens get washed through the ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ especially during the rainy season.

Frequent Poaching:

The elephants habitually use the tea gardens in the he ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ as a migration route to Nagaland, and this aspect frequently exposes them to the poachers.

Railway Track & Gibbons:

The railway tracks passing through the ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ have divided the park.
As a result, the railway lines have stranded single groups of gibbons into smaller fragments.

Habitat Degradation & Illegal Logging:

The quality of habitat in the ‘Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary’ has been degraded because of encroachments.
On the other hand, illegal logging has also taken a toll on the sanctuary.

The writer — Nilutpal Gogoi is an entrepreneur, senior journalist, writer, translator (from Assamese to English & vice versa), avid traveller, British English Accent & grammar trainer, educationist, and martial arts (Taekwondo) practitioner.

Categories
Assam Tourism

Raimona National Park in Assam! Home of Flora and Fauna

Raimona National Park

Raimona National Park is located in the extreme western part of Assam, India. It spread across Gossaigaon and Kokrajhar subdivisions of the Kokrajhar district of BTR. The area is located along the Himalayan foothills and together with Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary of Bhutan and Buxa Tiger Reserve of West Bengal forms a fairly large transboundary conservation landscape of more than 2,400 km2.

The boundary of Raimona National Park is marked by the Sankosh River on the west, and Saralbhanga River on the east runs northwards till it touches the Indo-Bhutan international boundary on the north and remaining part of Ripu Reserve Forest on the south. The southern boundary runs eastwards along the fire line Ride-6 up to Pekua River.

Connecting Road in Raimona National Park

Assam has been blessed in abundance with a great variety of flora and fauna and was home to five national parks housing a wide variety of species of plants and animals until recently before two more were added to the list – Raimona and Dehing Patkai. It was declared to be National Park on 5 June 2021 by the announcement of Assam’s Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on the occasion of World Environment Day at Gandhi Mandap, Guwahati.

Raimona National Park Ways

Sankosh River

Variability of life

Raimona National Park is famous for the golden langur, an endemic species (with Bhutan) which has been named as the mascot of the Bodoland region. It also has Asian elephants, Bengal tigers, clouded leopard, gaur, chital, four to five species of hornbills, more than 150 species of butterflies, 170 species of birds, 380 varieties of plants, and orchids.

Being a moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forest, this National Park is rich in biodiversity. It has four non-human primates, slow loris, Assamese macaque, Rhesus monkey, and capped langur. Other noteworthy mammals found in this national park includes Chinese pangolin, Himalayan black bear, dhole or Asian wild dog, crab-eating mongoose, leopard cat, jungle cat, Asian golden cat, leopard, Bengal tiger, clouded leopard, gaur, Asian elephant, Himalayan serow, chital, sambar, hog deer, crestless Himalayan porcupine, barking deer, and hispid hare.

Golden Langur Raimona National Park

Deer in Raimona National Park

Raimona National Park Golden Langur

Elephants Raimona National Park

Variability of life Raimona National Park

Birds

Raimona forest harbors more than 260 bird species. The avifauna includes swamp francolin, critically endangered white-bellied heron, grey peacock pheasant, kaleej pheasant, Indian peafowl, lesser adjutant, Oriental darter, collared falconet, white-backed vulture, slender-billed vulture, besra, Jerdon’s baza, black baza, osprey, Bengal florican, now perhaps extirpated, ibisbill, mountain imperial pigeon, green imperial pigeon, red-breasted parakeet, great pied hornbill, wreathed hornbill, occasional rufous-necked and grey hornbills, hill myna and scaly thrush.

Peacock Raimona National Park

Categories
Assam Tourism

Jonbeel Mela an attractive unique festival of Assam

The Joonbeel (Joon and Beel are Assamese terms for the Moon and a wetland respectively) is so-called because a large natural water body is shaped like a crescent moon. From 15thCentaury AD, the JunbeelMela is organised at DayangBeguri at Jonbeel. JunbeelMela is one of the most attractive unique festivals of Assam. It is the only fair in India where the barter system is alive.

Before the mela takes place, an Agni Puja (fire worship) is performed for the well-being of mankind. The mela starts with community fishing in the Chunbîl (Joonbeel) wetland. People perform their traditional dance and music, making the atmosphere one of joy and fun.

During the occasion a huge bazaar is held. A few days before the mela starts, indigenous tribal communities of Assam Hills and neighborhood like Hills Tiwa, Karbi, Khasi, and Jayantia of the northeast come down from the hills with products and interchange their merchandise with the native indigenous Assamese people in a barter system.

Jonbeel Mela is celebrated during the month of January every year. Jonbeel Mela is a three-day annual indigenous Tiwa Community fair held the weekend of Magh Bihu at a historic place known as Dayang Belguri at Joonbeel.

The mela is said to have begun not later than 15th century AD. It was first organized ago by the Tiwa (Lalung) to discuss the prevailing political situations. The Mela was initiated by our predecessors to maintain cordial relations among all the indigenous Assamese communities.

The theme of the mela is harmony and brotherhood among the indigenous Assamese communities and tribes scattered in the Northeast India.

How to Reach

Joonbeel is 3 km from Jagiroad in the Morigaon district of Assam and 32 km from Guwahati. The National Highway connecting the mela is NH 37. You can hire a Taxi from Guwahati to reach Joonbeel or catch bus from Adhabari Guwahati.

Categories
Assam Featured Tourism

Celebrating Rabha Hajong Chandubi Festival in Assam

Five-day Chandubi Festival is a showcase of the myriad folk culture of different communities of the State. The Festival allows knowing their traditions, ethnic culinary delicacies, folk musical instruments, ethnic fineries, and traditional games and sports.

Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council organises the Chandubi Festival, which is held on the bank of ChandubiBeel in Kamrup every year. Rabha and Hajong are main communities of the region. They showcase their ethnic culture in the festival.

The Chandubi Festival also attracts visitors by showcasing the traditional art and culture of the Rabha community and Mouth-watering ethnic dishes which adds another attraction to the festival.

The Festival presents a good platform for organizing exhibitions on traditional craftsmanship on bamboo and cane and handloom textiles which in a way boost the growth of traditional industries. The festival features bamboo and cane exhibition, traditional games and sports, cultural programmes, garment stall etc.

Assam Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi said that Chandubi Festival has turned into a bridge of unity among the indigenous communities living along the border between Assam and Meghalaya.

He also hailed the efforts of the organizers in achieving this goal of transforming the Chandubi Festival into bridge of unity.

A brief about Rabha and Hajong

Rabha people

The Rabha are a Tibeto-Burman community to the Indian states of Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal. The Rabha community have a rich, multi-faceted and distinct culture of their own. They primarily inhabit the plains of Lower Assam and the Dooars, while some are found in the Garo Hills.

Most of the Rabhas of Dooars refer to themselves as Rabha, but some of them often declare themselves as Kocha. The women love to wear colorful clothes that they weave themselves and they wear a lot of beads and silver ornaments. The Rabhas are non-vegetarians and rice is their staple food.

Hajong people

The Hajong people are an ethnic group from Northeast India and northern parts of Bangladesh. The majority of the Hajongs are settled in India and are predominantly rice farmers. Hajong people are said to have brought wet-field cultivation to Garo Hills, where the Garo people used slash and burn method of agriculture.