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Camera-trapped snaps raise hopes for Manas

Guwahati, Dec. 22: Pictures don’t lie and Manas is definitely not lying.

As the first camera-trapped pictures of wildlife come out, the Manas National Park authorities want to send across the message that there is still hope for the numerous species in the park though the numbers may not be that big.

“These pictures at least demonstrate that there is still hope for Manas,” the field director of Manas tiger reserve, A. Swargowari, told The Telegraph.

Camera trapping began in November when forest authorities of India and Bhutan agreed to start a joint initiative to “camera trap” tigers’ movements across the international border, which also heralded the beginning of a new chapter in co-operation between the two countries for wildlife conservation. The exercise will continue till the end of January.

Altogether 150 cameras were placed in 75 locations in the park.

Not only tiger, leopard, black panther, clouded leopard, leopard cat, jungle cat, wild pig, elephant, civet, porcupine have been “trapped” during the exercise.

These cameras are being monitored by different organisations — the World Wildlife Fund, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment and Aaranyak.

In Manas India, the areas being covered are Bansbari and Bhuyanpara while in Bhutan, the Manas range of Royal Manas National Park is being surveyed.

With the monitoring mission team of International Union for Conservation of Nature/World Heritage Committee coming next month, these pictures will prove that wildlife is present in the national park.

The World Heritage Committee has been telling the park authorities that an upward trend in the populations of key wildlife species needs to be demonstrated in order to remove it from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Manas National Park is the most diverse of the country’s wildlife reserves. It houses 61 species of mammals, 354 species of birds, 42 species of reptile, 9 species of amphibian, 79 species of fish and more than 187 species of butterfly and 100 species of invertebrates.

It also has the country’s highest numbers of protected endangered endemic species — 22 of Schedule I mammals. “These pictures are telling that Manas is kicking back into action. Almost all the major carnivore species and its prey has been camera trapped,” a WWF official, who was involved in the exercise, told The Telegraph.

“There is definitely hope and now sincere planning, commitment is required to restore its past glory. Within a decade from now, if the same commitment continues, at least 90 per cent of wildlife in Manas will be back,” the secretary general of Aaranyak, Bibhab Talukdar, said.

“Local communities are also supporting the conservation initiatives as has been evident in the Indian Rhino Vision, 2020, with no incidents of poaching reported as of now.”

In 1992, Manas was put on the List of World Heritage in Danger after threats related to insurgency in and around the park resulted in depletion of forest habitat and wildlife population and destruction of park infrastructure.

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