Manas gears up for integrated approach
Guwahati, July 3: Manas National Park, which recently shed its world heritage site in danger tag, will now work towards an integrated ecosystem-based monitoring of its wildlife population that will allow continuous observation and documentation of a wide range of flora and fauna.
The integrated approach was recommended by the IUCN/Unesco World Heritage monitoring mission, which presented its report at the 35th meeting of the World Heritage Committee that ended in Paris last week. The mission based its report on its visit to the national park from January 24-31.
Thanking the authorities for the efforts made towards wildlife monitoring, the mission said these efforts could greatly benefit from an integrated approach that included analysis and synthesis of information from different kinds of flora and fauna found in the park, rather than only the big mammals.
“By expanding the scope and depth of analysis of such information, Manas would not only have a comprehensive overview of the state of the landscape but it would also serve as an early warning system for the management. This would facilitate evolution of the park management from reacting to scattered individual pieces of information to proactive management of the property as a whole,” the report stated.
Sources said the request had been given a positive nod at all levels and the authorities had started working on it.
Only four key species are currently being monitored in a systematic manner — tiger, elephant, buffalo and one-horned rhino. Population estimates for the other key species like hispid hare, Bengal florican, pygmy hog and swamp deer have also been carried out with varying levels of accuracy.
“Other forms of wildlife are monitored based on a monitoring form filled by the forest guards during their daily patrols. These sightings are compiled in monthly reports from each patrol station and submitted to the field director for his perusal. However, there is currently no mechanism by which these reports can be consolidated and analysed to determine the status of the park system as a whole,” the report said.
The mission recommended that the park should be monitored regularly to ensure that the various issues were addressed timely and the security situation remained stable.
It recommended that the Centre invite a monitoring mission to the park in 2016 to evaluate the progress made, particularly relating to the implementation of integrated monitoring.
The Centre has assured the IUCN/Unesco that funds would flow through the Tiger Conservation Foundation by the next financial year, from April 2012 to March 2013.
The mission considered the approval of the Manas Tiger Conservation Foundation as vital in resolving the issue of fund release and recommended that the Centre to make sure that the foundation was operational immediately after approval.
The mission asked both India and Bhutan to do a joint feasibility study on a trans-boundary expansion of the existing property to include larger areas of the landscape on both sides of the international border.
The Indian and Bhutanese park management and staff regularly visit each other to exchange information and can move freely across the border for this purpose.
Both the countries had for the first time, carried out camera-trap survey of tigers, covering a total trans-boundary area of 50,000 hectares. Seven tigers have been identified in India of which two have been recaptured in Bhutan.
The mission also recommended the implementation of a swamp deer recovery plan and the inclusion of a 36,000-hectare area, located west of the park, within it as proposed by the BTC.