The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Assam and includes various facets of the protection and breeding of plants and animals in India. With the Himalayan Mountain Range looming over the park in sheer domination and undeniable beauty, this sanctuary is made up of the Project Tiger Reserve, Elephant Reserve and a Biosphere Reserve. It was named after the Manas River, which flows through its borders and sustains both plant- and animal life.

The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary was first declared such in October 1928. Until then, it had been a Reserved Forest, used by certain royals as hunting grounds. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Five years later, the Reserved Forests of Kahitama, Panbari and Kokilabari were added to create a much larger reserve. In 1992, the poaching had taken enough of a toll for UNESCO to declare it an area in danger. As of 2008, the entire area covered by Manas measures 950 square kilometres. However, this is not only occupied by Indian fauna and flora. In fact, there is a forest village situated in the heart of the reserve and another 56 such villages around it. These people rely on the natural resources of Manas to sustain them.
Image of a huge wild male Asian Elephant emerging from the forest
Huge wild male Asian Elephant emerging from the forest

The expanse of Manas Wildlife Sanctuary covers six districts and access is somewhat challenging. It benefits from the dense forests and rivers that characterise its landscapes. There are grassy areas that extend luxuriously in beautiful, serene vistas. These different types of vegetation and landscapes make for an equally diverse array of animals that can occupy them. May and September are the rainy months. Temperatures seldom fall below 15 degrees Celsius and can soar to about 37 degrees.

A plethora of animal species have made this reserve their home, including tigers, leopards, elephants, Smooth-coated Otters, sloths, deer and Clouded Leopards. The savannah areas are home to animals such as the rare Pygmy Hog, the rhino, Asiatic Buffalo and Bengal Florican. The forests tend to draw the Giant Squirrel, Wild Pig, Sambar, Slow Loris and Capped Langur to its moist, lush habitat. Other endangered wildlife includes the Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare and Golden Langur. In fact, there are 55 species of mammals, 380 bird species, 50 kinds of reptiles and three of amphibians sharing this ample habitat. 31 of the wildlife species are currently threatened or endangered for various reasons (loss of natural habitat, hunting / poaching, pollution, and so on).

Although almost half of the sanctuary is covered by Assam Valley Semi-Evergreen Alluvial Grasslands, the other main vegetations include Sub-Himalayan Light Alluvial Semi-Evergreen forests, East Himalayan mixed Moist and Dry Deciduous forests and Low Alluvial Savannah Woodland.

Night drives, river rafting, elephant rides and daytime game drives are some of the popular activities awaiting visitors to the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. The nearest airport is Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Borjhar, Guwahati. This reserve once again attests to India’s flexibility as a destination of natural, cultural, historical and religious significance.

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