Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday announced that the Raimona reserve forest in Kokrajhar under the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR), bordering Bhutan, has been upgraded as the sixth national park of the state.
Announcing this on the occasion of World Environment Day, the chief minister said that with the new addition, the state now has six national parks. The process to convert Dehing Patkai wildlife sanctuary into a national park is also under progress, he said.
The chief minister said that this was a landmark step in environment conservation and the newly declared national park will be another endeavour by the state to protect its rich flora and fauna.
The notification declaring Raimona as a national park has been issued by the environment and forest department on Saturday. The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 says whenever it appears to the state government that an area,whether within a sanctuary or not, is, by reason of its ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological or zoological association or importance,needed to be constituted as a national park for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wild life therein or its environment.
The other five national parks in Assam are – Kaziranga, Manas, Nameri, Orang and Dibru-Saikhowa.
Sarma said its a step taken towards fulfilment of the UN vision of ecosystem restoration. Minister for Environment and Forest Parimal Suklabaidya said the announcement made by the chief minister has turned out to be a red letter day for the state and welcome news for wildlife lovers, nature lovers and conservationists.
The Raimona national park falls under BTR’s Kokrajhar district and is a part of contiguous forest patch with an area of 422 square km covering the northern part of the notified Ripu Reserve Forest which forms the westernmost buffer to Manas Tiger Reserve in the foothills of Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity Hotspot.
The boundary of Raimona national park stretches from the Sonkosh river on the west along the inter-state boundary of West Bengal and Assam from Indo-Bhutan border and Saralbhanga River on the east, runs northwards till it touches the Indo-Bhutan international boundary on the north and remaining part of Ripu RF on the south.
The new national park shares contiguous forest patches of Phipsoo Wildlife Sanctuary and Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park in Bhutan (total area of 1,9 creating a transboundary conservation landscape of more than 2,400 square km. A senior forest official pointed out that such secured transboundary ecological landscape will ensure long term conservation of endemic species like Golden Langur – the mascot of BTR – and endangered species like Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Royal Bengal Tiger Panthera tigris and varied other flora and faunal species it supports.
Historically, the area was a part of the migratory route of the faunal species from Himalayan Mountain, Indo-Malayan and Indo-Chinese areas towards west and Peninsular Indian realm species to the east, the official said.
The new national park forms the western most buffer to the Manas Tiger Reserve (TR) which is one of the nine such reserves in India first declared by Project Tiger in 1973. The area is also the integral part of Manas Biosphere Reserve (BR) and Chirang-Ripu Elephant Reserve (ER).
The new national park will open up huge opportunities of ecotourism for the fringe villagers, who currently are partially or totally dependent on forest resources for their livelihood. A highly viable tourism circuit through the Raimona national park and the contiguous protected areas of Bhutan will attract national and international tourists, who will not only enjoy the wildlife and outstanding scenic beauty but also the diverse and colourful social landscapes and their rich culture and tradition, the official added. PTI