Manas National Park

Among the entire forest areas of Bodoland, Manas is perhaps the most well known. Part dense jungle, part grassland, it's at the confluence of Indian, Ethiopian and Indo-Chinsese realms. A reason why Manas National Park is one of the richest regions for flora and fauna. This 519-sq. km. National Park is also the core area of a sprawling 2,837 sq. km. Manas Tiger Reserve. It is a popularly known home for Elephant, Rhino, Tiger, Gaur, Wild buffalo, Deer, Wild dogs and many other animals, reptiles, insects and birds, including some highly endangered species like Pigmy hog and Bengal florican. Manas has a recorded count of 56 species of mammals with as many as 23 listed in the Schedule I under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972, 36 species of reptiles and 476 species of birds. Manas is not only a significant National Park of India, it is also an important migratory corridor for the elephant population of the entire Indo-Bhutan region.

The conservation history of Manas dates back to 1905 when it was declared a Proposed Reserved Forest. It became a Reserved Forest in 1907 and a Game Sanctuary in 1928. It was given the status of Wildlife Sanctuary in 1950 and after four decades in 1990, this area of immense importance as a biodiversity hotspot was declared a National Park, Its fortunes reached a peak when in 1985 it was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In 1989 it was also recognised as a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Programme. In 2003 Manas also earned the additional tag of elephant reserve.

Like an old stalwart, Manas has survived changing fortunes and today once again it stands at the threshold of what might become the greatest conservation story of the 21st century.

Basic Information

Park Area500 sq.kms
LocationFoothills of Bhutan, on the Eastern coast of the Himalayas
Latitude26°43'N - 26°717'N
Longitude90°56'E - 90°933'E
Rainfall3330 mm
Temperature5°C minimum and 37°C maximum
Best Time to VisitNovember to April. The park is closed from June to September.
Flora543 species of plants recorded (Dicots - 374 spps, Monocots - 139 spps.)
Fauna60 species of mammals, 476 species of birds, 42 species of reptiles, 7 species of amphibians, 54 species of fish and more than 100 species of insects

Manas has shown that community participation is the key to any meaningful conservation initiative. It all started after the BTC took charge of the administration of Bodoland and a small environment-conscious group of the ABSU cadres formed Manas Maozigendri Eco-Tourism Society (MMES). The new force joined hands with the forest department to protect what was left of Manas after the  damage of the years of unrest. Within the span of a few years and with the whole-hearted support of BTC leadership, MMES has not only galvanized into a meaningful protection force of dedicated cadre but has also established a tourist facility at Kokilabari in the easternmost part of Manas. This charming tourist complex has ethnic huts with all modern amenities, adequate not only for the domestic tourist but also for the international traveller wanting to explore Manas National Park. They have also established a nature camp at Doimari in the central parts of Manas. Situated on a small hillock, the camp provides a panoramic view of Manas landscape sloping towards south and the Bhutan hills on the northern side.

MMES's move has proved to be a role model for several other local youth in other areas of Manas to undertake similar initiatives  aimed at park conservation and development of sustainable tourism.

With the picturesque Mathanguri bungalow on the bank of the Manas river, already a favourite with visitors and with adequate decent accommodation available at the Bansbari lodge, Manas is now well equipped to handle nature lovers from the world over. An infrastructure of protection and tourism is also coming up in the eastern grasslands of Manas at Gabrukunda. It can now be hoped that soon the entire Manas National Park will be open and accessible to nature lovers. This change from previous times will certainly contribute to the local economy and provide more opportunities for commercial enterprise to the local community.