|There is no one
way to describe Manas National Park.
on the foothills of the Himalaya, Manas
is the most stunning pristine wildlife habitat
in India, comparable to the best in the
world in the beauty of its spectacular landscape.
It is also a UNESCO Natural World Heritage
(in danger) site, a Project Tiger Reserve,
an Elephant Reserve and a Biosphere Reserve
- a unique distinction. This Brahmaputra
Valley semi-evergreen forest Terrestrial
Eco-region is also the richest in species
of all Indian wildlife areas and the only
known home for the rare and endangered Assam
Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare, Golden Langur
and Pygmy Hog.
Manas is the closest I have come to seeing
paradise on earth in my life - but that
was 25 years ago. Today, Manas looks like
an aged diva wearing rags, though I think
I still caught the familiar sparkle in the
The focus point of Manas
National Park is the enchanting Manas River,
named after the serpent goddess Manasa.
It is the largest Himalayan tributary of
the mighty Brahmaputra. Coming down the
Bhutan Hills from the north, the crystal
clear waters of the Manas river runs through
the heart of the 500 sq. km core area of
Manas Park. The main tourist spot of Mothanguri,
on the northern border of Manas with Bhutan,
is situated on the banks of this river.
in the north bank of the Brahmaputra river,
in Assam, Manas lies on the international
border with Bhutan. It is bounded on the
north by the Royal Manas National Park in
Bhutan, on the south by populous North Kamrup
district and on both east and west by buffer
forest reserves which are part of 2,840
sq. Km Manas Tiger Reserve.
The Manas River flows
through the west of the park, where it splits
into two separate rivers, the Beki and Bholkaduba.
These and five small rivers drain the Reserve
which lies on a wide low-lying alluvial
terrace below the foothills of the outer
Limestone and sandstone form the bedrock
of the savanna area in the north while the
grasslands in the south consist of deep
deposits of fine alluvium.
The Burma Monsoon Forests of Manas lie on
the borders between the Indo-Gangetic and
Indo-Malayan bio-geographical realms and
is part of the Brahmaputra Valley Biogeographic
Province. The combination of Sub-Himalayan
Bhabar Terai formation with riverine succession
leading up to Sub-Himalayan mountain forest
makes it one of the richest biodiversity
areas in the world.
Two major biomes are represented in Manas
~ the grassland biome and the forest biome.
The main vegetation types are: i) Sub-Himalayan
Light Alluvial Semi-Evergreen forests in
the northern parts, ii) East Himalayan mixed
Moist and Dry Deciduous forests (the most
common type), iii) Low Alluvial Savanna
Woodland, and iv) Assam Valley Semi-Evergreen
Alluvial Grasslands which cover almost 50%
of the Park. Much of the riverine dry deciduous
forest is at an early successional stage.
It is replaced by moist deciduous forest
away from water courses, which is succeeded
by semi-evergreen climax forest in the northern
part of the park. A total of 543 plants
species have been recorded from the core
zone. Of these, 374 species are dicotyledons
(including 89 trees), 139 species monocotyledons
and 30 are Pteridophytes and Gymnosperms.
Fauna: Manas is the melting
point of the west and the east, with many
species at the westernmost and easternmost
point of their range representing a gateway
for species exchanges between the typically
Indian and Malayan' faunas.
A total of 55 mammals, 50 reptiles and three
amphibians have been recorded, several species
being endemic. Manas contains 21 of India's
Schedule I mammals and at least 33 of its
animals listed as threatened, by far the
greatest number of any protected area in
the country. Some, like the Assam Roofed
turtle Kachuga sylhetensis, Golden Langur
Presbytis geei, Hispid Hare Caprolagus hispidus,
Pygmy Hog Sus salvanius and the only pure
strain of Asiatic Wild Buffalo Bubalus arnee,
are only found/best seen here.
life: The diverse habitat of Manas
is ideal home for a variety of specialized
birds. Manas boasts the largest population
of the endangered Bengal Florican in the
world and is also a great place to see the
Great Hornbill. The National Park lists
around 380 species and the adjoining hilly
terrain in Bhutan can easily add a hundred
birds to that total. Good birds to look
for are Greater Adjutant, Black-tailed Crake,
Red-headed Trogon, Swamp Francolin, Wreathed
and Rufous-necked Hornbill, Marsh and Jerdon's
Babblers, Pied Harrier, Rufous-rumped and
Bristled Grassbirds, Hodgson's Bushchat,
Rufous-vented Laughingthrush, Finn's Weaver,
Ibisbill and a variety of foothills species.