Manas National Park or Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is known for its Project Tigers, Rhinos & Elephants, and is Assam’s one of the two Tiger projects. It is a Wildlife Sanctuary, UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger Reserve, an Elephant Reserve and a Biosphere Reserve in Assam on the foothills of the Himalayas and a part of it extends to Bhutan. Manas National Park is home to a great variety of wildlife, including tiger, Golden Langur, Wild Buffalo, Hispid Hare, Pigmy Hog, Capped Langur, Indian one-horned Rhinoceros, Elephant, Gaur, Hog Deer, etc.
The name of the park is originated from the Manas River, which is named after the serpent goddess Manasa. The Manas River is a major tributary of Brahmaputra River, which passes through the heart of the national park.
Manas National Park was declared a sanctuary on October 01, 1928 and was designated a World Heritage site in December 1985. The park lies in the districts of Barpeta and Kokrajhar, 41km north of Barpeta Road Township. It spans the ManasRiver and is bounded to the north by the international border with Bhutan, to the south by the populated regions of North Kamrup and to the east and west by forest reserves. The park, which includes part of Manas Reserve Forest and all of NorthKamrupReserveForest, constitutes the core of Manas Tiger Reserve which lies in the forest divisions of Kachugaon, Haltugaon, Western Assam Wildlife and North Kamrup from 26°37′-26°50’N to 90°45′-91°15’E.
The sanctuary has recorded 55 species of mammals, 380 species of birds, 50 of reptiles, and 3 species of amphibians. Out of these wildlife, 21 mammals are India’s Schedule I mammals and 31 of them are threatened.
The fauna of the sanctuary include Asian Elephants, Indian Rhinoceros, Gaurs, Asian Water Buffaloes, Barasingha, Indian Tigers, Leopards, Clouded Leopards, Asian golden cat, Capped Langurs, Golden Langurs, Assamese Macaques, Slow Loris, Hoolock Gibbons, Smooth-coated Otters, Sloth Bears, Barking Deer, Hog Deer, Black Panther, Sambar Deer and Chital. The park is well known for its rare and endangered wildlife which is not found anywhere else in the world like the Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare, Golden Langur and Pygmy Hog.
Manas houses more than 450 species of birds.Manas have the largest population of endangered Bengal Florican. The major other birds includes Giant Hornbills, Jungle Fowls, Bulbuls, Brahminy Ducks, Kalij Pheasants, Egrets, Pelicans, Fishing Eagles, Serpent Eagles, Falcons, Scarlet Minivets, Bee-Eaters, Magpie Robins, Pied Hornbills, Grey Hornbills, Mergansers, Harriers, Ospreys and Herons.
The climate is warm and humid (up to 76% relative humidity) with most rain falling during the monsoon season (May-September). The mean maximum summer temperature is 37°C and the mean minimum winter temperature is 11°C. Mean annual rainfall ranges from 3332mm at Batabari to 4489mm at Kachugaon, based on 11 and 17 years of records, respectively.
The national park has been attracting both domestic and foreign tourists. Main areas of tourism in Manas National Park are River rafting, Elephant Safari, Jeep Safari and Boat Safari in the Manas River. Also the transportation facility to the park is very good by road, train and by air. LGB International Airport (Guwahati) is the nearest Airport which is 145 Kms. The road distance from Guwahati is about 140 Kms and Barpeta Road Railway Station is 20 Kms away.
Best time to visit Manas National Park is from month of November to April. For tourist information one may contact Field Director, Manas Tiger Reserve, Barpeta Road -781315, Tel.- 03666-261413(0), 260288(R), 260289(Control Room) .
Photo Courtesy: Dipankar Bordoloi