Manas shakes Bhutan hand for animal vigil- Neighbouring parks agree on trans-border conservation to track movement of straying inmates
Guwahati, July 2: India will no longer have to worry about diplomatic hassles when wayward rhinos saunter into Bhutan, with two national parks on either side of the border agreeing to trans-boundary conservation.
The Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan and Manas National Park, India will henceforth co-operate to track the movement of animals in their contiguous areas.
The move should come as a huge relief for park officials who have spent agonising days trying to trace animals.
In 2008, a “prodigal” rhino strayed from Manas National Park and walked for over a fortnight to reach the Bhutan border, 100km away.
When the animal was finally tracked down following a tiresome search, what worried park authorities most was that had it stepped into Bhutan territory, “things would be complicated”.
“Bhutan has now agreed to join hands for trans-boundary conservation,” A. Swargiari, field director of Manas National Park, told The Telegraph.
To the north of the sanctuary is the Royal Manas National Park.
While Manas India has an area of 500 square km, that of Royal Manas is 1,057 square km.
River Manas that connects the two parks is an integral to the topography.
Tenzi Wangchuk, park manager of the Bhutan park, said the project would kickstart further trans-boundary work.
Both the park authorities are now looking out for funds for the project.
Several meetings have been held in the past to discuss trans-boundary co-operation.
“We will soon work out modalities for carrying out work jointly,” Swargiari said.
Authorities said officials of both parks share a good relationship and regularly meet and even share resources at times.
The World Heritage Committee, too, said this co-operation was highly valuable and even necessary for conservation of animals, for which Manas was inscribed on the World Heritage List.
Manas National Park contains 22 of Schedule I mammals and at least 33 of its animals are listed as threatened. Royal Manas in Bhutan has 58 species of mammals.
Wangchuk said Manas India should work on better co-ordinated and frequent patrolling, good road network along the border areas for faster and better movement, implementation of livelihood projects to help the poor, thus reducing their dependence on natural resources.
“Disturbance on the Indian side affects us and it is time that we work together for the benefit of both sides,” Wangchuk said.