India North East India - Manas National Park
Manas National Park, Tiger Reserve and World Heritage Site
Manas is on the southern border of Bhutan and part of the traditional home to the Bodo people. It has been part of their ancestral land since they migrated here from eastern Tibet over two thousand years ago. Sadly, following the annexation of Assam into India by the British in 1836, the Nagas, Bodos and numerous other tribal peoples of the region, as elsewhere in the world, were marginalised by the British colonists, “alienated in their own land” and pushed into its fringes. The jungles of Manas became the last refuge of the Bodos. This situation continued under Indian rule, with Manas continuing to suffer as a result of deforestation for agriculture and poaching of wildlife.
Bodo freedom fighters, known as the Bodo Liberation Tigers, also lived in the jungle using its resources in their armed and political struggle for independence from, or autonomy within, India. Then, in 2003 Bodoland was recognised as a “state within a state” with its own autonomous Territorial Council. One of their prime objectives is to save Manas from further depredation and return it to it's original nature in a project aptly named “Back to the future”.
It is hoped that adventure tourism will provide some of the necessary funding, and for this reason we were invited to join a group of Bodo Forest Rangers (all ex-poachers) in Nov-Dec 2013 to survey trekking, elephant and jeep safari and rafting in Manas and participate in a promotional film for the Bodoland Tourism Ministry. We had a great 2 weeks there, everything arranged by our sponsor, Parth Pratim Das, as on our earlier trips to N E India, this time with approval and assistance from Mr Kampa Bargayari, The Minister of Tourism, Environment and Forest affairs, Bodoland. Most nights we were camping by, or sleeping in, Forest Watchtowers in the Park, some nights in Lodges on the perimeter. We saw wildlife every day including endangered species such as Golden Langurs, Great Indian Hornbills and Rhinos. Tiger and leopard footprints were seen most days. We are happy they were so elusive as poachers are still around though in very limited numbers. China has a lot to answer for!
We totally recommend the 'Manas Experience' which, with it's wildlife, trekking, rafting, elephant and jeep safari as well as cultural interest is full of variety. Enjoy!
Jan 2015 TGO (The Great Outdoors) magazine have scheduled our Manas feature for February 2015. We were also told by Partha who organised our Manas trip that following further unrest in Bodoland the situation is OK now. Manas Park has reopened for visitors after a week's closure.