National Parks of Assam

b) Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park :-

Location of Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park falls under area of Darrang and Sonitpur District of Assam, a state of India.  This national park is situated on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra River. The coordinates of the park are 26.5568148°N, 92.3279016°E. In 1915, Initially Orang was declared a Game reserve. In 1985, Orang Game reserve became a Wildlife Sanctuary. In 1992, the park was renamed as Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary. The Sanctuary was declared as a National Park in 1999. The total area of Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park is 78.81 km2 (30.43 sq.mi.). The ecosystem diversity of this national park is part of the Indu-Burma biodiversity hotspot. Orang National Park is called ‘Mini Kaziranga’ because it has similar natural environment with the Kaziranga National Park. The forest of the park has been categorized into: Eastern Himalayan Moist Deciduous forest, (area: 15.85 sq.km.), Eastern Seasonal Swamp Forest, (area: 3.28 sq.km.), Eastern Wet Alluvial Grassland, (area of 8.33 sq.km.), Savannah Grassland, (area of 18.17 sq.km.), Degraded Grassland, (area of 10.36 sq.km.), Water body, (area: 6.13 sq.km.), Moist Sandy area, (area of 2.66 sq.km.) and Dry Sandy area, (area of 4.02 sq.km.). The maximum length of the boundary of the park is touched by Pachnoi river, Belsiri river, Dhansiri river and Brahmaputra river.

Orang National Park has wide range flora and fauna. Orang park shows sound population of mammals, birds, reptiles, fishes, amphibians, insects, etc. Great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris), Asiatic elephant, pygmy hog, hog deer and wild boar are dominant species found in the park. Other mammals such as the blind Gangetic dolphin, Indian pangolin, rhesus macaque, porcupine, Indian fox, small Indian civet. Otter, leopard, fishing cat and jungle cat are also notable species of the park.  Some of species are in critically endangered and endangered category. The great Indian one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) population is estimated at 68 individuals, as per census carried out by the forest department in 2006. The Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park is also declared as Tiger Reserve in 2016 by Government of India. Orang has the highest density of population of Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). In 2013, Orang had an estimated 24 tigers.

c) Manas National Park :-

The Manas National Park spreads in the areas of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa, Udalguri, Darrang and Bongaigaon districts in the state of Assam in India. The coordinates of Manas National Park is 26° 43′ 0″ N, 90° 56′ 0″ E. The area of the park is 950 sq. k.m.  Manas National Park is located at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas. Situated in the north bank of the Brahmaputra River in Assam, Manas lies on the international border with Bhutan. It is bounded on the north by the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan, on the south by Kamrup district and on both east and west by buffer forest reserves which are part of Manas Tiger Reserve.

 The focus point of Manas National Park is the Manas River, named after the serpent goddess Manasa. The Manas River, a tributary of Brahmaputra River passes through the national park. The river flows through the west of the park, where it splits into two separate rivers, the Beki and Bholkaduba. These and five small rivers drain the Reserve which lies on a wide low-lying alluvial terrace below the foothills of the outer Himalaya.  Coming down the Bhutan Hills from the north, the crystal clear waters of the Manas River runs through the heart of the 500 sq. km core area of Manas Park. The main tourist spot of Mothanguri, on the northern border of Manas with Bhutan, is situated on the banks of this river.

            The Manas National Park was declared a sanctuary on 1 October 1928 with an area of 360 km2. Initially, it was a game reserve.  Manas became a Tiger Reserve in 1973. In 1989, it was declared a national Manas Biosphere Reserve (283,700 ha). In 2001, the Park declared the core zone of the Buxa-Manas Elephant Reserve. It was declared a World Heritage site in December 1985 by UNESCO. The areas of Kahitama Reserve Forest, the Kokilabari Reserve Forest and the Panbari Reserve Forest were included in the year 1990 to form the Manas National Park. The park is divided into three ranges. The western range is based at Panbari, the central at Bansbari near Barpeta Road, and the eastern at Bhuiyapara near Pathsala.

The park is managed under the administration of the Assam Forest Department / Bodoland Territorial Council.

The Burma Monsoon Forests of Manas lie on the borders between the Indo-Gangetic and Indo-Malayan bio-geographical realms and is part of the Brahmaputra Valley Biogeographic Province. Two major biomes are represented in Manas, the grassland biome, and the forest biome.

There are two types of alluvial grasslands in the Park i.e., low alluvial savanna woodland and semi-evergreen alluvial grassland. There are 43 different grass species found in the park. The park’s common trees include pithraj tree (Aphanamixis polystachya), Kadam (Anthocephalus chinensis) Malabar plum (Syzygium cumini), Bhukua Chepa (Syzygium formosum), Syzygium oblatum, Purple Orchid Tree (Bauhinia purpurea), Monkey Face Tree(Mallotus philippensis), Indian Bay Leaf(Cinnamomum tamala), Actinodaphne obvata, cotton tree (Bombax ceiba), elephant rope tree (Sterculia villosa), outenga or elephant apple (Dillenia indica), Dillenia pentagyna, Wild Guava (Careya arborea), Queen’s Flower (Lagerstroemia parviflora), pride of india (Lagerstroemia speciosa),  Bastard myrobalan (Terminalia bellirica),  chebulic myrobalan (Terminalia chebula), false white teak (Trewia polycarpa), goomar teak (Gmelina arborea), Indian Trumpet (Oroxylum indicum) and  Bridelia spp. The grasslands are dominated by Giant Reed (Arundo donax), (Saccharum narenga), cotton tree (Bombax ceiba), Cogon grass (Imperata cylindrical), Tall Reed (Phragmites karka), , Dillenia pentagyna, Indian gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica), and species of Leea (Tagalog: Talyantan), glorybower (Clerodendrum), Mussaenda, Grewia, Premna, etc.

The main vegetation types are: i) Sub-Himalayan Light Alluvial Semi-Evergreen forests in the northern parts, ii) East Himalayan mixed Moist and Dry Deciduous forests (the most common type), iii) Low Alluvial Savanna Woodland and iv) Assam Valley Semi-Evergreen Alluvial Grasslands which cover almost 50% of the Park. Much of the riverine dry deciduous forest is at an early succession stage. It is replaced by moist deciduous forest away from watercourses, which is succeeded by a semi-evergreen climax forest in the northern part of the park. A total of 543 plant species have been recorded from the core zone. Of these, 374 species are dicotyledons (including 89 trees), 139 species monocotyledons and 30 are Pteridophytes and Gymnosperms and 15 species of orchid have been identified

 In Manas, there are a total of 55 mammals, 50 reptiles and three amphibians. Some species are native to the park. Manas contains 21 of India’s Schedule I mammals and at least 33 of its animals listed as threatened, by far the greatest number of any protected area in the country.

The fauna of the national park includes Asiatic elephants, great Indian rhinoceros, gaurs (Bos gaurus), wild water buffaloes (Bubalus arnee), barasingha (Rucervus duvaucelii), Bengal tigers, Indian leopards, clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa), Asian golden cats, fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), dholes, capped langurs, golden langurs, Assamese macaques, slow loris, hoolock gibbons (Hoolock hoolock), smooth-coated otters, sloth bears, barking deers, hog deers, Indian giant squirrel (Ratufa indica),  black panthers, sambar deers, spotted deer, pygmy hog (Porcula salvania), Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), hispid hare (Caprolagus hispidus), particolored flying squirrel (Hylopetes alboniger) etc.

The park has also been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International for the conservation of the avifaunal species. The Manas hosts more than 450 species of birds. The bird’s population include Bengal florican, Wreathed and Rufous-necked Hornbill, great hornbills, pied hornbills, jungle fowls, brahminy duck, bulbuls, kalij pheasants, egrets, pelicans, fishing eagles, crested serpent-eagles, falcons, Red-headed Trogon, scarlet minivets, bee-eaters, magpie robins,  mergansers, harriers, Indian Peafowl, ospreys, Hodgson’s Bushchat, herons, Bristled Grassbirds, Finn’s Weaver, Ibisbill, etc.

There are 50 reptile species in Manas National Park. The fish eating crocodile ‘gharial’  (Gavialis gangeticus) is seen. Eleven species of snake including vine snake (Ahaetulla nasutas), banded flying snake (Chrysopelea pelias), Assam trinket snake (Elaphe frenata), king cobra (Ophiophagus Hannah), Indian rock python (Python molurus), and banded krait (Bungarus fasciatus) are foundThe yellow monitor (Varanus flavescens ) and common monitor lizards (V. salvator), and rare turtles  Assam roofed turtle (Pangshura sylhetensis), Indian black turtle (Melanochelys trijuga) and the Assam Roofed turtle (Kachuga sylhetensis) have their habitat in the park.

d) Nameri National Park:-

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