The protected area is located in the federal state of Assam at the foot of the Himalayan foothills and has the 500 km² national park in the core zone. The vegetation consists of semi-evergreen hill forests, wet and dry forests and grasslands. The Manas Conservation Area is the habitat for the Indian elephant, the Bengal tiger, the Indian rhinoceros, as well as the gold and cotfish.
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary: Facts
|Official title:||Manas Wildlife Sanctuary|
|Natural monument:||2837.12 km² Manas Tiger Reserve, of which the 500 km² large Manas National Park is the core zone, a wildlife sanctuary since 1928, national park status since 1990|
|Location:||north of Barpeta, district of Barpeta and Kokrajhar, border area with Bhutan|
|Appointment:||1985; from 1992 to 2011 on the Red List of World Heritage in Danger because of the almost complete extinction of the Indian rhinoceros|
|Meaning:||in the foothills of the Himalayas habitat of endangered animal species such as the Indian elephant, the Indian rhinoceros, the Bengal tiger and the shy golden langur|
|Flora and fauna:||semi-green tropical rainforest, tropical humid rainforest, mountain dry forest and extensive grassy plains; almost 60 mammal, 42 reptile and 7 amphibian species; Probably 14 more Bengal tigers and a dozen more rhinos, crested and golden langurs, the latter a shy species of tree monkey, on both sides of the border with Bhutan, up to 600 Indian elephants, 215 water buffalo, as well as dwarf wild boar and clouded leopard, the binturong, which belongs to the crawling cats; Over 450 species of birds such as the annual bird, black and white harrier, and more rarely Argala and Sunda marabou|
In the red monkey forest
Far away from overcrowded traffic routes and busy cities, the nature reserve of Manas, located directly on the border to the Kingdom of Bhutan, is one of the most pristine and mysterious in all of India. “And when the sun creeps out between the ancient trees, the jungle takes on a whole new face, which is extremely memorable with its delicate tones from pale green to pink-brown. According to computergees, India’s forests have never seemed so full of a magical fairytale atmosphere «, enthuses ornithologist Rolf Lachner about a visit in the 1970s. Little has changed about that to this day.
The cross-border wildlife sanctuary stretches on both sides of the Manas, Hakua and Beki rivers, which – broadly fanned out and interspersed with islands – flow into the Bay of Bengal. The landscape is extraordinarily diverse: In the river plains, moist grass plains prevail, loosened up by islands of deciduous forest; In the section belonging to Bhutan, impenetrable jungle stretches up the slopes of the pre-Himalayas. The dense vegetation turns stalking into a real game of patience, but rewards the visitor with unexpected encounters with extremely rare animals.
Manas is part of the so-called “Tiger Project”, with which India is trying to ensure the survival of the big cats. In the wake of political unrest, however, the reserve was far away from state control for several years as a retreat for the Bodo rebels and thus also an attractive target for poachers. Because, like the rhinoceros, the tiger is an extremely sought-after object in Far Eastern medicine.
In addition, due to its strength and cleverness, the big cat was once one of the preferred trophies of the maharajas and colonial officials who were obsessed with hunting and was almost extinct on the subcontinent. Tiger hunting was considered evidence of masculinity, even if the animal was lured and then ambushed. In many a palace, moth-eaten tiger skins and stuffed big cats still tell of the “sporting” successes of the crowned heads. Like everywhere else, the encounter with the “King of the Jungle” in Manas is a rare stroke of luck. Other large mammals in this habitat include a small population of Indian rhinos, a large herd of wild elephants, water buffalo and the imposing Gaur, weighing up to a thousand kilograms, a wild cattle that is still quite widespread on the subcontinent, but is nevertheless very shy and threatened with extinction. More often, on the other hand, you will see the stately sambar deer on the grassy plains, far less often the peculiar muntjac, a small species of deer that lives as a bush hat in the dense vegetation. Their barking noises, which they emit when danger is imminent, are particularly noticeable.
The main attraction of Manas, however, is the golden langur, which only lives here. With a bit of luck you can see the cute slender monkeys doing gymnastics high up in the crown of leaves of the silk cotton trees. The animals were spotted for the first time at the beginning of the 20th century, but it would be decades before the English tea planter Edward Prichard Gee succeeded in precisely observing and describing them in 1953. As a recognition, as is quite common in biology, he was allowed to set a small memorial for the newly discovered species with the Latin name (Prebytis geei). In addition, he earned great merit through his tireless efforts for the preservation and expansion of the reserve.
But the jungle of Manas also has other unusual residents, such as the bristle rabbit and the dwarf wild boar, which are difficult to spot in the dense undergrowth. Of course, countless species of birds also have their habitat here, including the chatty Bulbüls, the clumsy-looking large hornbills, small bee-eaters and majestic sea eagles, long-tailed yellow-tailed nectar birds and attractive bearded parakeets. “I know of no area,” wrote Edward Prichard Gee, “that combines such great scenic beauty with such abundant wildlife as the region in the foothills of the Himalayas.”