The beautiful Manas National Park is nestled at the base of the impressive Himalayan Mountain Range in the state of Assam, with a portion of the park stretching into Bhutan. It was originally established in 1928 and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December of 1985. It is flanked by forested areas and follows the Manas River. These natural resources enrich the park and allow an even greater diversity of plants and animals to occupy its area.

Manas National Park includes a section of the Manas Reserve Forest as well as the entire North Kamrup Reserve Forest. It is also the core of the Manas Tiger Reserve, which is acclaimed for its preservation and protection programmes aimed at sustaining the Bengal Tiger population. Most of this area is flat. The Manas River eventually splits into three and joins up with the major Brahmaputra River. As it flows down from the high-lying mountains, it carries silt and rock into the low-lying areas. This has major implications regarding the stability of the rocks and the amount of rain that is allowed to penetrate the areas below the mountains. During heavy rains, animals have become accustomed to moving higher up, which has succeeded in saving many lives. This rain usually falls in the monsoon season, which extends between May and September. Summers can be very hot, reaching highs of almost 40 degrees Celsius, while winters seldom drop below 10 degrees. The vegetation comprises 1) tropical semi-evergreen forests, 2) tropical moist and dry deciduous forests and 3) alluvial grasslands.

The Manas National Park is home to a variety of animals in addition to the Bengal Tiger. These include Gaur, Pigmy Hogs, Indian Rhinoceroses (or one-horned Rhinos), Indian Elephants, Hog Deer, Golden Langurs and Wild Buffalos,
Image of a pair of Hog Deer
A pair of Hog deer (Axis porcinus), at the Museum of Natural History
amongst others. This park has made concerted efforts in the field of conservation for Bengal Tigers, Indian Rhinos and Indian Elephants. This is one of the reasons that it achieved World Heritage status.

The Tiger Reserve, called Project Tiger, began in 1974 in response to the ever-increasing threat of poaching. The Bengal Tiger was hunted in huge numbers for its beautiful coat as well as its bones and teeth, which were and are believed to have medicinal value and to strengthen the man that takes them in medicine form. The Tiger Reserve is made up of several forests (the ideal habitat for the Bengal Tiger), making it both beautiful to experience and ideal for the preservation of this animal. It also includes both flat and hilly portions.

The Elephant Reserve was put under the care of Manas National Park in 2002, and is also known as Project Elephant. The reserve (formally known as the Chirang Ripu Elephant Reserve) is situated between the Sonkosh River and the Dhansiri River. The main objective of this project is to prevent the slaughter of elephants for their tusks as well as for their hides, feet, and so on.

In terms of tourism, the key objectives of Manas National Park is to focus on the protection of the environment, allow visitors to experience this landscape from a real, close-up perspective, benefit the fauna and flora of the region and involve local communities in conservation efforts and education. In order to achieve these goals, Manas has to contend with a shortage of qualified staff and a lack of support from the community, who do not understand the benefits they could derive from the protection of the park.

Tourists should note that access to the park is not easy as the roads are in a bad condition. However, the abundance of animals and the natural beauty are worth the bumpy ride. Activities include river rafting, game viewing from elevated towers and several walking or hiking trails.

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