Bishnupur, Assam, October 1, 2018 : As a part of the celebratory events held during Wildlife Week across the nation by Wildlife Trust of India, the first addition to Manas National Park marked its first wildlife week celebration. Facilitated by IFAW and WTI, the celebrations took place in Bishnupur, a village near the First Addition to Manas National Park.
Bishnupur’s local markets are known for illegal trade in wildlife parts, including sale of bush meat, and also timber smuggling. Organising an awareness campaign in an area like Bishnupur was a well thought out move executed by our team in Manas. Through the awareness campaign and education programs held during the Wildlife Week, WTI intended to expose the local community to our conservation efforts and messages.
This awareness and education programme held during the 64th Wildlife Week celebrations in the Manas landscape was of great importance and the support from the Assam State Forest Department and Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was very encouraging throughout the event.
As a part of the event, students from Bahbari High school, Baksa presented a short play ‘DWI’- the water directed by renowned artist, Mr Siddhartha Mukherjee, who too was present during the event.
The event was witnessed by over 800 people. The prime focus of the event was on making the local communities aware of the landscape to an extent where they can be engaged in wildlife conservation efforts. During the event, a focus group was formed to brainstorm on issues in the area and ways to deal with them. The focus groups involved village heads, forest department officials, local political leaders and school children. The brainstorming sessions were followed by the felicitation of focus group members. While discussing the issues, the focus group came up with a check list of species which are found in the landscape now, and compared it with the list of species found in the past.
All the discussions and brainstorming were later in the day transformed into informative presentations by the students which resulted in open discussions amongst the groups. The status of threatened species of flora and fauna in the landscape like White-winged wood ducks, vultures, pigmy hogs, agarwood etc, were also discussed during the presentations based on which, the participants had many queries concerning the landscape and wildlife. All their queries were addressed by experts like Mr Dharanidhar Boro, Sub Divisional Officer, Manas Tiger Project, Mr A. Dewan, ACF, Manas Tiger Reserve, Dr Bhaskar Choudhury and Mr Santan Deka from WTI. Mr Godadhor Das, Chairman, Village Council Development Committee also addressed some of the issues in relation to Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) and appealed the villagers and concerned Range Officers to work together to find a solution to address HEC in the landscape.
Manas is located along the Indo-Bhutan border and has contiguous wildlife habitats with Bhutan. The area was declared a National Park in 1990.
Concluding the program Mr Raju Kumar Brahma, DFO, Chirang extended the vote of thanks on behalf of Assam State Forest Department, BTC and IFAW-WTI to all the participants.
FIELD GEAR DISTRIBUTION TO NATURE GUIDES
10th October 2018- In another event held as part of our wildlife week celebrations in Manas, on the occasion of the opening ceremony of Manas National Park for tourists, Wildlife Trust of India with the generous support of Serenity Trust distributed field gear to nature guides of Manas Maozigendri Ecotourism Society (MMES) and Manas Nature guide Association. The event was graced by Mr.Kampa Borgoyari, Deputy Chief and Minister, Forests, Tourism and Education, BTC along with the senior officials of BTC like the Principal Secretary, BTC, Additional Principal Secretary and Secretary, Forests, I/C CHD, Forests, BTC and local MLAs. This initiative shall further motivate them and help to enhance their skill set.
The Deputy Chief acknowledged the contribution of WTI in bringing back Manas over the past decade. He also highlighted that the forest authorities shall ensure protecting the habitat by reclaiming any encroached land without any further ado.