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Birds beckon more tourists

- Best inflow at Dibru-Saikhowa

Jorhat, March 20: Three new bird species and a bit of extra publicity have ensured the highest inflow of tourists at Dibru-Saikhowa since it was declared a national park in 1999.

The sighting of three new bird species and projection of the park at various fora have brought a windfall for the sanctuary.

According to official figures, the park has been host to 4,027 tourists so far this fiscal.

The previous highest was in 2011-12 when 3,956 tourists visited the national park, spread across Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts in Upper Assam.

“Of the 4,027 tourists, 43 were foreigners who visited the park for bird watching,” park director V. Mathur told The Telegraph today.

Nearly 500 species of birds are found in the national park and most foreign tourists come to catch a glimpse of rare birds like the black-breasted parrot bill, Jerdon’s babbler and swamp prinia.

The park was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1986 and a national park in 1999, restricting its core area to 340 square km with a large buffer zone.

The sanctuary is home to some rare and endangered animals like the hoolock gibbon, capped langur, slow loris, water buffalo, tiger, elephant, Indo-Gangetic river dolphin and others, apart from a large population of local and migratory birds and a sizeable population of feral horses.

Mathur said tourists were finding Dibru-Saikhowa a treat probably because three new species of birds — Baikal bush warbler, Indian skimmer and Baer’s pochard — were sighted there.

The national park was being projected on various platforms by the authorities and stake holders.

That the national park is becoming a popular destination can be gauged from the fact that more than half of its tourists in the last decade have visited it in the past two years.

Mathur said while the other national parks in the state remain closed during the monsoons, Dibru-Saikhowa being an island, offers the pleasure of a boat safari through wilderness in the numerous nallahs (rivulets) traversing through the park.

The park is criss-crossed by the Lohit, Dibang, Siang and Dibru rivers, all tributaries of the Brahmaputra.

In winter, when these nallahs dry up, tourists trek inside the park to watch birds, as several species choose Dibru-Saikhowa as their winter home.

Mathur said the Tinsukia district administration has been playing a pro-active role in the management of the park and forest conservation and this has presented the park to a much wider interface.

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