Creating a transnational conservation area, the Royal Manas National Park in southwestern Bhutan abuts the Manas National Park of the neighbouring Indian State of Assam. It was accorded wildlife sanctuary status way back in 1966, making it the oldest protected area in the country. As many as 27 years later, it was declared a National Park. Covering an area of more than 1,000 sq.km., the Park had been out of bounds to public for a long while. The region is fed by the Manas river, and is indicative of Bhutan's tropical and subtropical ecosystems. The Park hosts a stunning variety of plant and animal species, and this includes several that are threatened or endangered. In addition to a few hundred bird species, it is said to support more than 900 types of plants, including many with medicinal value.
The animals that one can spot in the region include Royal Bengal tiger. Asian elephant, greater one-horned rhinoceros, clouded leopard, Himalayan black bear, Gangetic dolphin, pangolin, and the endangered and rare golden langur. Among the birds that roam the area are ducks, geese, shelducks, pochards, teals, partridges, tragopans, pheasants, quails, grebes, pigeons, cranes, bitterns, doves, nighjars, swifts, doves, eagles, hornbills, babblers, thrushes, cuckoos, herons, egret cormorants, thickknees, stilts, plovers, lapwings, sandpipers, gulls, terns, vultures, owls, woodpeckers, beeeaters, kingfishers, parakeets, orioles, drongos, shrikes, flowerpeckers, weavers, munias, sparrows, finches, tits, buntings, prinias, warblers, bulbuls, flycatchers, and robins.
In 2017, Bhutan became the first (and the only) carbon-negative country in the world. The carbon dioxide produced by the country is less than what the tree / forest cover there can absorb. The country has been determined to ensure that the forest cover does not drop below 60 % at any given time. While this is great news for the wildlife in the region, the country and the park in are not without concerns. For instance, human activity such as selective logging, deforestation, hunting, and tourism have been increasing challenges for the place. Being a small country, it has managed to keep several threats at bay so far. However, as a country develops, human activity could only increase, leading to alteration of places that wildlife call home. There are also concerns that species such as the threatened clouded leopard could be affected in the long run due to such activity.
News reports published in 2018 said that the number of tigers at the Park grew from just 10 in 2010 to more than double- an impressive 22-within a decade. This is attributed to the conscious effort not just at Royal Manas but also at Manas National Park in neighbouring India. In fact, both the Parks registered increase in tiger numbers, and this is attributed to transboundary conservation.
While the tiger usually gets all the attention for being a top predator, it is also important to record other species in a region. Less than a decade ago, efforts were taken up to record the different types of cats present in Royal Manas National Park. The study "recorded six species of wild felids of which five are listed on the IUCN Red List". They are tiger, golden cat, marbled cat, leopard cat, clouded leopard, and common leopard. It was conducted over an area of 74 sq.km., and the sightings of felid species confirmed the region "as a biodiversity hot spot for this group".
Picture Credit : Google