Kokrajhar, Sept. 26: Environmentalists and NGOs working on conservation of forest and wildlife have expressed deep concern over the unabated felling of trees inside Chakrashila wildlife sanctuary in Kokrajhar district — home to the endangered golden langur (trachypithecus geei).
“Indiscriminate feeling of trees has severely degraded the forests, especially on the southern side of the sanctuary bordering Dhubri,” said Soumyadeep Dutta, director of Nature’s Beckon, a leading wildlife conservation group in the state that played a vital role in getting Chakrashila recognised as a sanctuary.
He said the timber smugglers entered the sanctuary by boat through Dhir Beel and escaped with their load by river.
“There’s a forest office at Salkocha but it is non-functional, as it has just one or two employees. Though encroachment has not started inside the sanctuary as yet, smugglers are continuously felling trees on the southern side taking advantage of lack of security,” he said.
“Chakrashila is an important sanctuary in this part of the country, as it is home to the endangered golden langur and needs immediate protection before it is too late. The authorities concerned should make necessary arrangements to check felling inside the sanctuary,” Dutta added.
He urged both the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and Assam government to take strong measures to check timber smuggling so that the beautiful forest wealth was not destroyed. “BTC, especially, should take stern action against timber smugglers and establish a forest range office in the southern part of the sanctuary to check their illegal activities. Strong measures should be taken to save the forest wealth,” he said.
BTC deputy chief Kampa Borgoyary, who looks after the forest and tourism department, said the council administration had been trying to protect and preserve the forests so that the natural wealth in the council areas could be safe.
He said forests in BTAD had been encroached illegally or destroyed during the past several years but this had changed after stern action was initiated against the encroachers.
Chakrashila is home to different species of mammals, birds, 23 species of reptiles, including snakes, crocodiles, alligators, lizards and turtles, and more than 40 species of butterflies.
The Indian short-tailed mole, Indian flying fox, short-nosed fruit bat, Indian false vampire, Indian pipistrelle, rhesus macaque, Chinese pangolin, Asiatic jackal and Bengal fox are also found in the sanctuary, which is also a save haven for a variety of endangered species.