A New Dawn Rises Over India’s Manas National Park

“Welcome to this game of chess, Vivek” he said “a game that you can lose at any time, a game that you may never win, but a game where you cannot afford to get up and walk away from the table”.When I started out in conservation 25 years ago I was welcomed by a senior animal welfare veteran with prophetic words.

“Welcome to this game of chess, Vivek” he said “a game that you can lose at any time, a game that you may never win, but a game where you cannot afford to get up and walk away from the table”.

After undergoing rehabilitation for a year, two clouded leopard cubs were radio-collared and returned to the wild by IFAW wildlife rescue staff and local officials in Manas National Park, India. This is the first known instance of clouded leopards being rehabilitated and radio-collared in India. The radio-collars will help rehabilitators track the movement of the cubs as they become completely independent of human care and begin exploring on their own. I did not realize how true those words would turn out to be. I have lost the war to save species and wild habitat innumerable times; to new development, to uncaring people and governments, and to ignorance amongst nature conservationists themselves on the natural world.

At many times it has been a lonely, pessimistic battle to save the last of India’s wilds. But there are times when the batteries are recharged again. Normally when one is out in the small, protected islands that we still have in the country, when a magnificent tiger springs out of the undergrowth on an unsuspecting deer, when a gigantic bull tusker sprays wet mud on his body or when a flock of hornbills take to the air in their many coloured splendour.

Even rarer are the times when a conservation battle fought in dry air-conditioned halls fills you with happiness. Today, marvelously, was one such day. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee in its 35th meeting has finally taken India’s Manas National Park off the Heritage Sites in danger list. We have been trying to get this victory for over a decade. Manas was the best example site of biodiversity in northeastern India in the 1980s. It was a place where the endangered rhino, swamp deer and buffaloes had a refuge with the tiger and the elephant - the big five of north east India.

Then came the civil unrest of the late ‘80s and a paradise was in danger. In fact much of it was destroyed. But with the peace accord in the early 90s and a concerned government, Manas started coming back up. The International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Wildlife Trust of India have been leading that fight back, bringing Manas back to its former glory.

We have rehabilitated rhinos, elephants, clouded leopards and even a tiger back to Manas. We have worked to boost the morale of the frontline forest guards and the NGO anti-poaching staff by training them and equipping them. Together, IFAW and WTI have provided local villagers with electric fences to keep out animals from their fields which helps gain their support in the action. And the local political establishment has grown Greater Manas to triple the size of the original protected area.

We have over the past years persistently lobbied UNESCO, to get remove the shameful tag of “Heritage in danger”, all that remained was for them to do so. And after an International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) site visit report and UNESCO’s own recommendations favouring India, the tag is now finally off. IFAW, WTI, The Assam government, the native Bodos and India can celebrate.

So can the wildlife of the area itself, which can look forward to a new dawn. Not the red tinted dusk of a site in danger but the golden ochre, the colour of the Bodos and that of a rising sun! —VM For the IUCN official announcement click here. 

Comments: 2

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Elephants in Assam are angry , sad and in trouble and that has little to do with poachers. Their own habitat is shrinking because of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh settling in the area.Many elephants and tigers in the area have been slaughtered for this very reason. World community needs to let Indian Govt ( and importantly the Assam State Govt.) know the consequences of not protecting precious wildlife.This has gone on too long with the connivance of the local govt. I appeal to US Media,especially JVM, to highlight this fact in her show.I am a fan of Jane.
Peter(peterz710 @hotmail.com)

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

<a href=&rdquo ;http://www.indianwildlifetourism.com/indian-national-park/
”>National Parks in India

Cultural tourism includes tourism in different area of India particularly historic or large cities and their cultural facilities such as museums and theaters.Heritage tourism is a branch of tourism oriented towards the cultural heritage of the location where tourism is occurring.But I think cultural and heritage tourism have same meaning.
It's so good article but I’d really like to be a part of community where I can get responses from other experienced people that share the same interest.

Thanks..

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Katie Moore, Program Director, Animal Rescue
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Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
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