India, Bhutan to jointly monitor Manas tigers
Guwahati, Nov. 10: The forest authorities of India and Bhutan have agreed to start a joint initiative to “camera trap” tigers moving across the international border from November 20, marking the beginning of a new chapter in cooperation between the two countries for wildlife conservation.
This was decided at a meeting between representatives of Manas National Park India and Royal Manas National Park Bhutan at Bansbari in Manas today. The idea behind the exercise is to monitor the movement of tigers between the two parks having contiguous areas.
The field director of Manas National Park, A. Swargiari, told this correspondent that both the countries had decided to go ahead with the joint camera trapping from November 20. “This is a historic day for both the countries in wildlife cooperation, and both sides have assured their support,” he said.
Around 450 square km will be covered on both sides of the boundary and the exercise will continue for two months. In Manas India, the areas covered would be Bansbari and Bhuyanpara while in Bhutan, authorities would be covering the Manas range of Royal Manas National Park.
Bivash Pandav from WWF International, who was present at the meeting, said the results of the first-ever joint camera trapping should be out by February and a joint report would be brought out. “This would be the biggest area covered jointly with another country,” he said.
Royal Manas National Park manager Tenzi Wangchuk represented Bhutan, which has provided full support to the exercise.
The meeting discussed the concept of Greater Manas which has already got the support from World Heritage Committee. The need for trans-border property cooperation and for having regular joint meetings was also discussed. A resolution was passed for conservation of greater Manas landscape.
While Manas India has an area of 500 square km, Royal Manas Bhutan covers 1,057 square km and tigers move from Phibsoo wildlife sanctuary in Bhutan to Manas tiger reserve, Buxa tiger reserve and Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary in India.
Standard monitoring protocol will be followed for the entire exercise, a senior forest official said.
The meeting also discussed the idea of having a similar exercise for monitoring elephants.
Apart from WWF, Aaranyak and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment also rendered their support.
The World Heritage Committee has been saying that the co-operation was highly valuable and even necessary for wildlife conservation for which Manas was inscribed on the World Heritage List.
The Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan has been saying that disturbance on the Indian side affects them and working together would be beneficial to both sides.