Manas Wildlife Sanctuary


Manas National Park or Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the six districts Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Malaria, Kamrup and Darrang in the state of Assam. Manas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tiger Reserve, Elephant Reserve, Biosphere Reserve, National Park and also a Wildlife Sanctuary.

The name ‘Manas’ is derived from the Hindu deity, the snake goddess ‘Manasa’ and is also shared with the Manas river that transverses through the park. The forests of the Reserve were traditionally inhabited and their resources used mainly by Bodo and Adhivasi tribesmen, though the area was also preserved as royal hunting grounds for two royal families. Twenty-one animal species listed in Schedule I of India’s national Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 live in the grassland ecosystem of the park, including tigers, Asian elephants, one-horned rhinos, golden langurs and golden cats, hispid hares, swamp deer, gaur and clouded leopards.

Manas was proposed a Reserve Forest in 1905, and declared a Reserve Forest in 1907. In 1928, it was declared a Game Sanctuary. Manas Game Sanctuary was declared as a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1950. The park was declared as Biosphere Reserve under Man & Biosphere Programme of UNESCO (total area – about 2837 Km2) in 1989.

Manas was declared as a National Park in 1990. In 1992, it was declared a World Heritage site in Danger due to severe damages to the ecosystem during the civil unrest of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Listing by the World Heritage Committee influenced the governments of India and the state of Assam to draw up, with the Park authorities, a $US2.35 million rehabilitation plan in 1997. Security and relations with local villagers improved but the threat of destruction remained until 2003 when the insurgents surrendered and began to cooperate through the newly formed Bodoland Territorial Council. The Park has since begun to recover and rebuild its infrastructure. It was removed from endangered status in the year 2011.


1907 Part of the area which was previously preserved as royal hunting grounds was classified as North Kamrup Forest Reserve; more land was added in 1927;
1928 Manas (previously North Kamrup) declared a Sanctuary for rhinoceros (36,000 ha);
1955 Reserve enlarged to 39,100 ha;
1971 The government set up an 890 ha seed farm in the Sanctuary to counter local encroachment pressures;
1973 Manas Reserve established as the core of the 283,712 ha Manas Tiger Reserve: Project Tiger set up to preserve the Indian tiger population;
1988 The contiguous Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan established;
1989 Declared a core zone of the newly formed national Manas Biosphere Reserve (283,700 ha);
1990 The Sanctuary was upgraded to a National Park and enlarged to 52,000 ha by the inclusion of the former Panbari, Koklabari and Kahitama Forest Reserves (Oliver, 1993);
1992+ Listed as endangered because of habitat destruction and heavy wildlife loss caused by Bodo insurgent groups protesting in-migration from other states and loss of their access to forest resources;
2001 The Park declared the core zone of the Buxa-Manas Elephant Reserve (283,700 ha);
2003 The Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) recognised, allowing the Bodo people some autonomy. The Park included within the Chirang Ripu Elephant Reserve.
2011 Site removed from Endangered status.


Outstanding Universal Value 

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the State of Assam in North-East India, a biodiversity hotspot. Covering an area of 39,100 hectares, it spans the Manas River and is bounded to the north by the forests of Bhutan. The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is part of the core zone of the 283,700 hectares Manas Tiger Reserve, and lies alongside the shifting river channels of the Manas River. The site’s scenic beauty includes a range of forested hills, alluvial grasslands and tropical evergreen forests. The site provides critical and viable habitats for rare and endangered species, including tiger, greater one-horned rhino, swamp deer, pygmy hog and Bengal florican. Manas has exceptional importance within the Indian sub-continent’s protected areas, as one of the most significant remaining natural areas in the region, where sizeable populations of a large number of threatened species continue to survive.

Criterion (vii): Manas is recognized not only for its rich biodiversity but also for its spectacular scenery and natural landscape. Manas is located at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas. The northern boundary of the park is contiguous to the international border of Bhutan manifested by the imposing Bhutan hills. It spans on either side of the majestic Manas River flanked in the east and the west by reserved forests. The tumultuous river swirling down the rugged mountains in the backdrop of forested hills coupled with the serenity of the alluvial grasslands and tropical evergreen forests offers a unique wilderness experience.

Criterion (ix): The Manas-Beki system is the major river system flowing through the property and joining the Brahmaputra River further downstream. These and other rivers carry an enormous amount of silt and rock debris from the foothills resulting from the heavy rainfall, fragile nature of the rock and steep gradients of the catchments. This leads to the formation of alluvial terraces, comprising deep layers of deposited rock and detritus overlain by sandy loam and a layer of humus represented by bhabar tracts in the north. The terai tract in the south consists of fine alluvial deposits with underlying pans where the water table lies near to the surface. The area contained by the Manas-Beki system gets inundated during the monsoons but flooding does not last long due to the sloping relief. The monsoon and river system form four principal geological habitats: Bhabar savannah, Terai tract, marshlands and riverine tracts. The dynamic ecosystem processes support broadly three types of vegetation: semi-evergreen forests, mixed moist and dry deciduous forests and alluvial grasslands. The dry deciduous forests represent an early stage in succession that is constantly renewed by floods and is replaced by moist decidous forests away from water courses, which in turn are replaced by semi evergreen climax forests. The vegetation of Manas has tremendous regenerating and self-sustaining capabilities due to its high fertility and response to natural grazing by herbivorous animals.

Criterion (x): The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary provides habitat for 22 of India’s most threatened species of mammals. In total, there are nearly 60 mammal species, 42 reptile species, 7 amphibians and 500 species of birds, of which 26 are globally threatened. Noteworthy among these are the elephant, tiger, greater one-horned rhino, clouded leopard, sloth bear, and other species. The wild buffalo population is probably the only pure strain of this species still found in India. It also harbours endemic species like pygmy hog, hispid hare and golden langur as well as the endangered Bengal florican. The range of habitats and vegetation also accounts for high plant diversity that includes 89 tree species, 49 shrubs, 37 undershrubs, 172 herbs and 36 climbers. Fifteen species of orchids, 18 species of fern and 43 species of grasses that provide vital forage to a range of ungulate species also occur here.




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