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A joint conservation effort led by the government, concerned agencies and NGOs along with local communities has yielded rich dividends in the form of the tiger population increasing at Manas National Park in Assam since 2010.
A study carried out in 2019 estimated the tiger population at Manas National Park was 52 with a minimum of 25 adult tigers captured in all the three ranges of the park – Bhuyanpara, Bansbari and Panbari which had only 10 individuals in 2010.
It may be mentioned that the heads of 13 tiger range countries made a historic commitment in the Tiger Summit held at St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2010.
Even more exciting is that in the first addition of Manas National Park, a newly added 360 sq km tiger habitats resulted in photo capture of three tigers in 2019.
“I am very pleased to observe the cohesion, ownership and partnership of government and non-government entities to bring Manas back to its current state. This is not seen anywhere in Assam or elsewhere in the country,” Principal Chief Conservator of Assam Forest Department, A. M. Singh said.
The administration of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), state government and National Tiger Conservation Authority has invested significantly in Manas Tiger Reserve in recent years to improve its infrastructure and law enforcement that has contributed to the recovery of the habitats, prey animals and tigers and other carnivores.
The Tiger Research and Conservation Division of Aaranyak, a biodiversity and wildlife conservation organisation, started the Manas Tiger Conservation Programme (MTCP) in 2015 that integrated multiple approaches (livelihoods, law enforcement support, conservation education and biological monitoring) for conservation to improve tiger habitats and support tiger, co-predators and prey population in Manas National Park.
This has been a multi-agency collaborative programme involving the forest department (BTC), park management, Wildlife Conservation Trust and Panthera supported by the Integrated Tiger and Habitat Conservation Programme.
Under this programme, 1400 households from fringe villages of Manas were covered to strengthen their alternative livelihoods skills. Many of these households have reported higher and sustainable annual income in 2019 compared to the baseline year 2015.
The programme along with other interventions from the government agencies has secured and improve habitats in Manas through reduced human activity inside the park that remained poorly protected for a long time during and aftermath of the armed conflict.
Manas had withstood the decade long ethnopolitical conflict trouble that started in the late 1980s continuing until 2003, when the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was formed as a political solution to the Bodo agitation for a separate state.
During the conflict, the park infrastructure was damaged in all three ranges except part of the Bansbari Range on the left bank of the River Beki.