Assam’s Manas National Park wants its ‘danger’ tag removed

Guwahati: In 1992, Unesco suffixed an “in-danger” tag to the World Heritage Site status it had accorded to Assam’s Manas National Park in 1985. India is now making an all-out effort to remove the tag, claiming that the park spread over 950 square kilometres has managed to recover from the time when poaching and destruction were the order of the day.

While the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee of Unesco is meeting in Paris from Sunday, the Indian delegation has already begun hectic lobbying with the 22 voting nations to remove the “in-danger” tag from Manas “because it is no longer so”. The delegation is being led by Additional Director-General (Wildlife) Jagdish Kishwan. Assam Principal Chief Wildlife Warden Suresh Chand is accompanying him.

“Manas is definitely back to its original glory and the health of the animals here is enough to prove this point,” said A Swargiary, director of the park. Manas, which was ravaged by poaching and rampant destruction in the 1980s, has since recovered, with the number of animal population increasing.

Recent studies by independent agencies, too, have said there has been no human disturbance inside the park, while the health of 18 reserved forests located in its vicinity has improved. “While 11 rhinos have been translocated to Manas from Pobitora and other sanctuaries, the number of wild buffaloes has doubled in over a decade,” said an official of the Wildlife Trust of India, whose Executive Director Vivek Menon, too, is in Paris.

“The rush of visitors proves Manas is back in its old form, with no danger either to its animals or to people,” said Swargiary.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature reported last year that Manas had made “good progress”, with “encouraging” recovery of the wildlife population. The number of elephants, for instance, went up from 522 in 2000 to 780 in 2008.