The fall and rise of Manas National Park, India

Located in the far north of India and partially in Bhutan, Manas National Park is among the most important of India’s wildlife conservation areas. Twenty-one animal species listed in Schedule 1 of India’s national Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 live in the grassland ecosystem of the park, including tigers, Asian elephants, one-horned rhinos, golden langurs and golden cats, hispid hares, swamp deer, gaur and clouded leopards.

But during civil unrest in the 1980s and early 1990s, the local wildlife was devastated. In little more than a decade the area had lost almost all of its 100 rhinos, many swamp deer and wild buffaloes, as well as large numbers of elephants and tigers.

As the region became more stable, IFAW, working with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and the Assam Forest Department helped repopulate the park and re-establish it as one of the most exceptional wildlife parks in the world.

Wildlife returns to Manas

With the conflict under control, IFAW, working with our partner organisation the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and the Assam Forest Department, started bringing rhinos, elephants and other wildlife back to the park.  So far, six rhinos and 11 elephants have been released into Manas, including a group of five elephants in 2011.

Until they were ready for release, we cared for these orphaned animals at our IFAW Wildlife Rescue Centre near Kaziranga, an area with too many human settlements to make local release appropriate. The young animals lost their mothers to poaching or were permanently separated from their herds because of conflict with humans or natural disasters such as floods.

In Manas, we are working with local communities to boost anti-poaching efforts and to train and equip rangers so that wildlife can flourish safely once again in this world heritage location.

Watch IFAW VP of Programs Ian Robinson talk in the video below about our work in India.