A rhino with her calf at Manas National Park. File picture
Guwahati, May 17: The World Heritage Committee has asked the Centre to continue increasing its efforts to combat poaching in Manas to secure the property and its recovering outstanding universal value.
Though the committee in its draft decision has welcomed the progress achieved to secure the property and to address civil strife in the area through various methods which appear to have resulted in a decrease of poaching last year, it has noted with concern the report by the IUCN Conservation Breeding Specialist Group indicating a high risk of local extinction of rhino within 30 years if poaching is not eradicated.
The 39th meeting will take place from June 28 to July 5 in Bonn, Germany.
“The Government of India is encouraged to continue increasing its efforts to combat poaching in order to secure the property and its recovering outstanding universal value, in particular the reintroduced rhino and eastern swamp deer populations, by increasing the number of frontline staff, taking appropriate actions to boost forest staff morale, and ensuring adequate equipment of forest staff to protect the property from heavily armed poachers and insurgent groups,” the draft decision stated.
Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (Smart) patrolling has been introduced in the property to improvement monitoring and control poaching.
Only one rhino was poached last year.
The committee said while progress with the reintroduction of Eastern Swamp Deer is welcomed, poaching needs to be brought sufficiently under control to ensure that the captive deer can be safely released into the property.
On funding, it said the park remains inadequately funded: “Although the Centre allocated funds to the property in June last year, as of now these had not yet been released by the state government.” The committee has urged the Centre to ensure that adequate funding is available to the park in a timely manner, as this is crucial to address the threats to the property.
It has requested the Centre to confirm the successful implementation of proposed short-term actions to address the encroachment at Bhuyanpara range, and to report on progress achieved in reversing current and preventing further encroachment through the implementation of long-term measures to meet the needs of local communities and garner their support for the park.
The Kokilabari Seed Farm is considered a positive example for meeting the needs of local communities and garnering their support for the property, which could be replicated elsewhere as well.
Invasive species are a long-standing threat that remains a significant concern. This was confirmed by the survey report on endangered grassland fauna, which noted that the spread of some invasive tree species, such as Bombax ceiba, may be promoted by regular grassland fires.
It said Bhutan has still not submitted the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Mangdechhu hydroelectric project, including an assessment of potential impact on Manas’s outstanding universal value and cumulative impacts in relation to the existing Kurichu dam, requested by the committee in 2012.