Hope For Tigers In Manas

by Ananda Banerjee 10 months ago Views 1072

Manas National Park
Manas National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, in Assam, faced the brunt of ethnopolitical conflict for nearly two decades, from the late 1980s to the early 2000s, where it lost most of it megafauna due to mass poaching. Tigers, rhinoceros, elephants and other wildlife disappeared. Large-scale timber felling was also reported but authorities fearing one’s life could not do much.

But since the mid-2000s, after the peace accord and the formation of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), Manas has showed incredible resilience and nature has bounced back slowly through efforts of different government agencies (Assam Forest Department and BTC in particular) which received tremendous support from local communities, grassroots community-based organizations, non-profit organizations from national and international organizations and donors.

"Manas has gone through a terrible phase since the late 80s and it has been a long-drawn effort of BTC. and other stakeholders since 2003. The depleted habitats and populations of animals are increasing steadily now," said, Amal Chandra Sarmah, Field Director, Manas Tiger Reserve.

Now researchers from Aaranyak and WWF-India project that tiger numbers in at least two ranges, Bansbari-Bhuyanpara, of Manas can grow two-fold given that currently 15-20 tigers are known to live after studying the population density of prey animals. The study is part of a extensive field research done over three seasons (2014-2017), “Responses of a wild ungulate assemblage to anthropogenic influences in Manas National Park, India,” published in the journal, Biological Conservation.

“Knowledge about population and distribution of a species is the key for its conservation planning and management. Aaranyak has been involved in such studies across Northeast India and we are glad to share this scientific research outcome with the forest managers and public. The field team had carried out this work amidst challenges with help from frontline staff and park management,” said M Firoz Ahmed, Senior Scientist, Head, Tiger Research and Conservation Division, Aaranyak.

As global efforts are mostly focused on recovery of large carnivores like tigers, the study recommends that any such recovery programme needs to address critical issues like non- lethal human disturbances on prey and habitats while the focus is on halting direct threats like poaching and retaliatory killing of tigers and co-predators.

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