Pobitora emerging as major tourist spot

GUWAHATI, April 18 – It used to be just a petite piece of wilderness, but now it is among the most popular haunts for nature lovers. Pobitora, the natural refuge of the Indian rhino, has emerged as a major draw for Indian and foreign tourists alike.

Tour operators told The Assam Tribune that visitors to Pobitora have swelled in recent times, the reason being its close proximity to Guwahati. "Tourists who are hard pressed for time say that it is much more convenient to visit Pobitora than Kaziranga," said Kanak Basumatary a guide, who has been taking tourists to the sanctuary for several years.

According to forest personnel, the proximity to Pobitora from Guwahati is a help, but its birdlife is an undeniable advantage. A large number of birders have been visiting the sanctuary in recent times.

"In winter it is a paradise for bird lovers…lots of migratory water fowl arrive from far away places," said Bhupesh Sarma, a local resident. He added that photographers based in Guwahati find it an attractive destination, and some have become regular visitors.

Another reason for Pobitora's popularity is the easy viewing of wildlife. In the morning and in the afternoon, rhinos and wild buffaloes can be viewed from close quarters. The elephant rides are an additional advantage, as visitors get a good view of wildlife in their natural habitat.

Foreigners have taken a liking for the natural landscape, as revealed by many travellers who find its rich biodiversity interesting. Matthew Saunders, a recent visitor from Bristol, took a day out to visit just to see the sanctuary and was impressed by the flora and fauna.

Mukul Tamuly, Forest Range Officer, who has been at the forefront of conservation efforts in Pobitora, said that in recent times the number of visitors has swelled. The revenue earned through tourist footfalls for this season is nearly nineteen lakh rupees, he mentioned.

Visitors from different parts of India have also praised the way the sanctuary spread over 38.81 sq km has been managed, which possesses a very dense concentration of Indian rhinos. It is worth mentioning that the sanctuary has also found space in international television programming helping increase tourist interest.