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Plan to save wildlife in Manas area

- Push for Indo-Bhutan MoU

Guwahati, Jan. 4: Thimphu-based Living Himalayas Global Initiative of WWF is chalking out a detailed conservation action plan for Trans-boundary Manas Conservation Area by the end of this month.

It will form the basis to lobby with the state and central government agencies to get the memorandum of understanding endorsed between India and Bhutan.

A planning workshop, held in Bhutan last month, was attended by government and NGO stakeholders from Bhutan and India.

The area was conceptualised in 2011 with the vision to jointly develop and manage a trans-boundary conservation area between Bhutan and India to benefit wildlife and people.

“The Initiative will chalk out a detailed conservation action plan for the area and circulate to all stakeholders, including WWF partners, by the month-end,” a WWF official told The Telegraph.

The official said the plan would also give an idea by which year the entire area can be secured under a protected area network.

Areas which will come under the trans-boundary area have now been finalised and will now consist of Royal Manas National Park, Phipsoo wildlife sanctuary and Khaling wildlife sanctuaryon the Bhutan side and Manas tiger reserve, Ripu and Chirang reserve forests on the Indian side.

“Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park in Bhutan has been excluded, since it does not fall in the trans-boundary area,” the official said.

The area possesses high bio-diversity that extends along south-eastern Bhutan and Assam, and forms part of the mosaic of conservation spaces across eastern Himalayas. The Manas tiger reserve and Bhutan’s Royal Manas National Park form the core of this biologically rich trans-boundary space which is home to tigers, elephants, rhinos and more than 1,500 other species of mammals, birds and plants.

The workshop provided a common platform for stakeholders on both the sides of the trans-boundary area to understand conservation issues, threats and challenges and develop a common strategy to operate the area.

The five prioritised threats were habitat loss and fragmentation, habitat degradation, loss and decline of wildlife, human-wildlife conflicts and inability to translate political will for conservation into actions on the ground.