Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Assam’s quest for environmental restoration; declares Raimona and Dihing Patkai as National Parks

On Wednesday, June 9, Assam Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya announced that Assam has become the second state in the country to have the highest number of National Parks.

Addressing a press conference, the State Forest Minister said, “Raimona and Dihing Patkai National Parks have been formally notified, adding to Assam’s total tally of NPs to 7. Assam has become the second state in the country to have the highest number of NPs.”

A few days back, on June 5, Assam Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma had declared a reserve forest in BTR as Raimona National Park, to mark the occasion of World Environment Day.

Assam’s active participation in environment restoration

Assam, situated in the North-East of the country, contains three of six physiographic divisions of India – The Northern Himalayas (Eastern Hills), The Northern Plains (Brahmaputra plain), and Deccan Plateau (Karbi Anglong).

Assam is a constituent unit of the Eastern Himalayan Biodiversity Region; one of the two biodiversities ‘Hot Spots’ in the country. Moreover, the States’ climatic condition and physical features have resulted in a diversity of ecological habitats such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, and is home to a variety of plants and animal species.

The Government of Assam’s decision to recognise two national parks is a step towards environmental restoration. “A landmark step in environment restoration by Govt of Assam. On World Environment Day, a reserve forest in BTR has been declared as Raimona National Park. The newly declared National Park will be another addition to the State’s endeavour in preserving its rich flora and fauna,” the Assam CM wrote.

Further, he said that the decision is also a step towards fulfilling the UN vision of ‘Ecosystem Restoration’.

Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya also said that the newly created national parks will help to boost the conservation efforts and provide a fillip to the tourism and agriculture sectors.

The State has been preserving and conserving its biodiversity through national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

Flora-fauna of Assam

“Red River and Blue Hills” eminent scholar Hem Barua writes, “To many outsides, Assam is no more than a land of mountains and malaria, earthquake and floods and the Kamakhya Temple. To others, it is a green woodland where slothful serpents, insidious tigers, wild virulent eyes, and clams.”

Assam is known for its ecological diversity, range of floral and faunal species, and for achieving conservation successes.

A study published in ‘Primate Conversation’ (2010) concluded that Assam’s Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary is an important stronghold for the endangered ‘golden langur’ in the western-southernmost part of its range in India.

Similarly, Panidehing Wildlife Sanctuary is a paradise for migratory and resident birds. So far, 165 species of birds have been identified and recorded here.

Assam is home to 4,273 species of vascular plants which constitute 25.12% of the total floral population in India. Around 293 species of orchids, 38 species of bamboo, 14 species of cane, etc, have been recorded in the State. Moreover, many commercially important plants, like banana, citrus, mango, zizyphus, and tea originate from this place.

Assam’s forest constitutes petarichawa, ramanbih, sam, siris, sau, koroi, kadam, khakan, and other ranges of trees.

Speaking of fauna, Assam’s wildlife shelters 950 bird species, 9 primate species, 19 species of tortoises, 77 species of snakes, 39 species of freshwater snails, and about 387 species of moths. In addition to this, creatures like Gangetic gharial, lizards, butterflies, elephants, fishes, tigers etc are also found in Assam.

National Parks in Assam

Before the official entry of Raimona National Park and Dihing Patkai National Park, Assam had 5 National Parks namely, Kaziranga National Park, Dibru – Saikhowa National Park, Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, Manas National Park, and Nameri National Park.

Moreover, the State, at present also has 18 wildlife sanctuaries. North Karbi Anglong Wildlife Sanctuary and Bordoibam Bilmukh Bird Wildlife Sanctuary are also in a proposal to be converted into a wildlife sanctuary.

About Raimona National Park

The Raimona National Park is located in the Kachugaon forest division, Gossaigaon sub-division in the Kokrajhar district, Assam.

The park is famous for ‘golden langur’, considered the pride of Bodoland. It is also home to a variety of species such as Asian elephant, tiger, clouded leopard, Indian gaur, wild buffalo, spotted deer, hornbill, and has over 150 species of butterflies, 170 species of birds, 380 species of plants, and several species of orchids.

Dihing Patkai National Park

The Dihing Patkai National Park is a stretch of forest, full of unique floral and faunal diversity. The last remaining stretches of Assam valley tropical wet evergreen popularly known as Dihing Patkai Rain forest.

It has a unique assemblage of species that include several endemic and critically endangered species. At the Dihing Patkai National Park, to date, 47 mammal species, 47 reptile species, and 310 butterfly species have been recorded. Tigers have also been reported here.

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