Essay by JWeigelCollege, UndergraduateB, May 2009

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How can we help preserve and protect the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary? The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is located at the foothills of the Himalayas in northeastern India; to be more precise the sanctuary is in the state of Assam. The sanctuary was established in 1928 as a wildlife sanctuary and became a national park in 1990; however, in 1992 this site was placed on the world heritage in danger list for reasons we will look at later. Let us now look at the uniqueness of this sanctuary, what it has to offer humanity, and how we need to further preserve this site for our future generations.

Overview of the Manas Wildlife SanctuaryAs previously stated, the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1928 and later listed on the world heritage in danger list in 1992. The sanctuary is approximately 123,500 acres with mostly flat and low lying areas of life; it is home to the only Manas Tiger reserve in northeastern India. Not only is the Manas Tiger reserve the only one in northeastern India, but it also extends to neighboring areas, such as Bhutan where it is known as the Royal Manas National Park (Wildlife Tour & Travels, 2008). Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is not only home to the Manas tigers but there are ecologically important wetland areas that are present with a number of different species inhabiting the land. The present numbers show that the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a variety of different species, approximately "…55 mammals, 36 reptiles, 450 species of birds, and other animal life" as well as plant life (Manas National Park, 2008). Now lets break up the view into the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary and figure out how we can preserve this sanctuary further.

Uniqueness of Plant LifeBased on the above picture taken directly from the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, what plant life is present? The sanctuary is home to a variety of plant life, but it is most known for the tropical semi-evergreen, deciduous forest, and alluvial grasslands (Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, 2008). The above picture only shows a limited area of plant life that can be found in the 123,000+ acres of this sanctuary.

What types of plants compose a tropical semi-evergreen forest? Tropical semi-evergreen forests are typically found in areas up to 1200m elevation where they receive an annual rainfall of approximately 150cm to 200cm with cooler winters than other forests. This type of forest is composed of fewer species of trees, but Careya arborea, Dillenia pentagyna (Gurjan), and Callicarpa arborea (Satin Wood) are found here, to name just a few (India Wildlife, 2008).

Then in the same sanctuary we can also find a low lying forest that receives less than 150cm of rainfall annually - deciduous forest - where there is a chance of forest fire because of the flowering trees, leaf shedding, and dryness that is encountered here. This forest could be man-made including, but not limited too Shorea robusta, Tectona grandis, Terminalia myriocarpa, Sterculia villosa, Logerstroemia flos-reginae, and L. Porviflora (India Wildlife, 2008). There are many more species of trees that can be found in the deciduous forest that are capable of surviving with limited rain each year and still help the surrounding animal life, which we will shortly explore.

The part of the sanctuary where alluvial grasslands can be found is where flooding and rainwater run-off affects the habitat during the rainfall season. The closer to wetland the plants are located the taller they may be. Specific plants to this area of the sanctuary are crepis mollis, ligularia sibirica, and angelica palustris. The plants found in this area of the sanctuary are light-demanding it is a necessary characteristic for plant survival, especially in this unique area of the sanctuary. How amazing is it that one park can have several areas of varying plant life? Now lets look at the unique animal life.

Uniqueness of Animal LifeWhat animal life is unique to the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, aside from the Manas Tigers? The sanctuary is home to at least 55 mammal species, 36 reptile species, 450 species of birds, and many more; we will look at the diversity of each species more in-depth in the next section. The numerous different species are able to live within the different plant life forms within the sanctuary and surrounding areas; without one there cannot be another. The main wildlife that is found among the sanctuary is the Manas tiger, leopard, panther, one-horned rhino, elephants, red pandas, and many more. Lets look closer at the diversity among these life forms to get a better understanding of how they work together and function.

Local Diversity of Life FormsWe can see that there are so many life forms present in this sanctuary, how do we begin to protect all them? The one-horned rhinos and Manas tigers are endanger and face extinction along with the Indian elephant, pygmy hog, golden langur, and hispid hare (Manas National Park, 2008). Other animals, just to name a few, that call this sanctuary home are leopards, panthers, shell-duck, reptiles, butterflies, buffalo, boar, swamp deer, Indian hornbill, and pied hornbill (Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, 2008). However, one thing we do know is that as of 1997 the tigers were at their highest population in many years in Assam - 497 - while there is work in progress to help the one-horned rhinos not be in danger (India Wildlife, 2008). The diversity among the many different life forms shows there is progress being made to recover from the upheaval that led this wildlife to go on the in danger list back in 1992. This sanctuary helps continue to have diversity because of the diversity among the types of habitats found here - Manas River, different forests, and other wetlands.

Biological Interrelationships among Life FormsNow we will look at how the relationships between plants and animals in the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary exist. First, it is important to understand what has been said before, without one of these life forms the other would not exist. Animals feed off of plants and other animals to live while plants require animals to ensure their continued evolution and growth. The plant growth might not be what it is today in this sanctuary if it was not for the climate changes, flooding, rainfall, and animals that inhabit the land.

One important interrelationship program that will help the one-horned rhino is the rehabilitation program, but will also indirectly help other species present in the local habitat too. There are plants that are within the sanctuary that continue to grow without any animal to eat them, mainly the one-horned rhino. The rhino has experienced major issues, almost to the point to being absent from the sanctuary completely which has forced the hand of the Wildlife Trust of India to step in. They have stepped in to help "…reintroduce and build up a healthy rhino population in the sanctuary" (Bindu Shajan Perappadan, 2005). Why is this type of help necessary? If the population of this rhino meets the rumors that were beginning, the population was absent within this park, there might be possibilities of extinction. Once extinction happens with a species there is no turning back and replacing them. This rehabilitation program is bringing to light the issues that the rhino is facing and helping to make surrounding communities aware of the problem while asking them for help. Without their help, support, and enforcement of this program failure may be on the horizon, but many of the communities have shown an interest and will to help make sure this program is successful in bringing the one-horned rhino population back to a health state for future generations to observe.

Along with the introduction to the one-horned rhino rehabilitation program they also brought in a mobile veterinary (Bindu Shajan Perappadan, 2005). You might be asking yourself, who cares? Well, with a mobile veterinary coming into the sanctuary on a consistent basis they are helping animals continue to be healthy, grow, and re-populate the sanctuary. With this continued re-population of numerous species comes much needed plant life for oxygen, rainfall absorption, and the continued circle of life. The circle of life means they both continue needing each other for survival. Now we need to look at the human intrusions facing the area.

Human Intrusions Threatening the AreaWhat types of intrusion do you think are facing the sanctuary? Obviously, human intrusion is a problem or the sanctuary would not be on the world heritage in danger list as of 1992. There are several human intrusions that are taking place and threatening the area, mainly arson, sabotage, murdering of the guards, and poaching (Manas National Park, 2008). Poaching, is also known as trespassing and hunting or stealing game without the landowners' permission. These threats began back in 1989 when "political upheavals" were taking place (Manas National Park, 2008). The damages done during this time were estimated to be about $2 million US dollars (Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, 2008).

This upheaval led to the murdering of the guard's that were protecting the land, evacuation of the staff due their safety being at risk, and subsequently led to poaching, killing tigers and rhinos during this time. Are there any protections that exist from these things happening further?Protections that ExistPreviously, we discussed that there was a one-horned rhino rehabilitation program that was implemented alongside of a mobile veterinary program. Both of these programs are helping to create a healthy, continuing growth for all species of animals, especially the one-horned rhino. There are also forest programs in place to protect the plant life as well as protect the animals that live in the forests during flood times. The money that was donated through the World Heritage Centre helps with the previous staffing issues that the park faced. Now there are enough employees and forest officials to ensure the safety of the animals even when they try to flee their habitats and go into the local communities to be free from floods. These protectors have helped educate and keep the community safe from these animals while showing them the responsibility that the local citizens have to keep the animals safe, even in times of emergency. These protections exist for the sole purpose of the animal and plant life inside of the sanctuary to help continuously build back the infrastructure from previous attacks that left it weak and instable.

Efforts Made for PreservationThere are many efforts that have been made for preservations, some continue, thanks to this sanctuary being placed on the in danger list. If this sanctuary was not placed on the world heritage in danger list there may be no hope for a future of the animal and plant life that lives within this sanctuary because of the political upheaval that has taken place previously. There are areas that are restricted from the tourists to ensure protection and safety of the surrounding area as well as increased security for the park, including animal and plant protection. I have previously discussed that these efforts have stretched to the local communities for assistance; this reach was made because if the people are solicited for help they are more inclined to support the ultimate goal. The main focus when this property was placed on the danger list was security and protection, but another focus was outlining the boundaries of the property, so that the protectors knew where they needed to focus their efforts. Will these efforts be enough if the property is ever taken off of the in danger list? The efforts have come a long way but are they enough?Individual Preservation EffortsGroup efforts are easier to accomplish compared to an individual's because each individual plays there own part of intrusions on plant and animal life, not only here at the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. An individual needs to help the preservation efforts by obeying all rules and regulations while they are inside of the sanctuary as well as outside the sanctuary. These rules and regulations can be adhered to in all natural habitats across the world. Further individual education is necessary too so that light can be shed on the lands that are in danger along with the animals; education begins with one person instituting for a change. The world heritage in danger list was the beginning for educating the local communities and continuing on across the world. This education then leads to the efforts that raise money to help pay for the support, education, and programs that are rehabilitating the sanctuary. Without the donations of many the programs and rehabilitation efforts may not be possible. Do you have what it takes to help? The more donations that are made the more preservation efforts can be instituted to help this sanctuary become independent and free of reliance from world heritage.

Additional Measures NeededAre there any additional measures that can be taken to ensure the preservation efforts continue? What happens if the preservation efforts were stopped? Additional measures that are needed by us is to minimize any future risks or chances for insurgency to take over the sanctuary again. Everything we do that decreases the risks protects the animal and plant life that we are working so hard to re-build. We also need to continue to build and strengthen the community ties and start to expand them across the world. One of the many ways that this can be done is through advertising efforts to the tourism potential to the sanctuary. The more people who shed light on this critical sanctuary the more the word will spread and efforts can continue to expand. The efforts should increase to show what is being done with the one-horned rhino rehabilitation program. The rehabilitation program is only in the beginning stages and there is a long road ahead to get these animals off of the endangered list permanently.

Outcome if Intrusions ContinueWhat will the sanctuary be like if intrusions continue? What will happen to the plants and animals that inhabit the park? Simply, all species - plant and animal - will be lost with continued intrusions, never to exist again. Some of the species are limited in where they inhabit, if their only place to live is this sanctuary, there is no help for them if we cannot protect their life. Our future generations will only know of their existence through stories and pictures without the ability to physically see their existence and no means to ever replace the species. This type of destruction will further lead to the 123,000 plus acres of land to be just a 'normal' piece of land without and meaning. If the land has no meaning people will want to be rid of the habitat that once existed and build on it, further increasing the selfish goals of humans. Do you want to be able to show your future children and grandchildren a one-horned rhino or a Manas Tiger? If you want to protect this precious, irreplaceable program and land you need to figure out how you can help.

Conclusion Preservation efforts are needed and need to continue in order to protect the variety of ecological lives living in this national park. Without the continued preservation efforts the land and species inhabiting the land will be irreplaceable, never to return again. Without the protection the ecological diversity will be nonexistent and poaching will continue to happen like before. Our responsibility is to continue and expand the preservation efforts to help the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary to one day become independent of protection without the World Heritage Centre. Let us continue by preserving the beauty and diversity in the above picture by protecting the animal and plant life like we do our own children! Let us now work together to stop the human intrusions from happening and continue to encourage our animal and plant diversity that is found in this sanctuary forever!ReferencesBindu Shajan Perappadan (2005). Bringing home the pride of Manas Sanctuary. The Hindu, p.1. Retrieved on March 15, 2009, from ProQuest Newsstand database.

India Wildlife (2008). Project Tiger. Retrieved on March 15, 2009, from http://www.india-wildlife.net/tigers-in-india/project-tiger.htmlManasNational Park. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Retrieved on March 14, 2009, from Grolier Online www.gme.grolier.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.comNews Agency (2004).

Floods force wildlife to stray to. Arabia 2000. Retrieved on March 14, 2009, from International Security & Counter Terrorism Reference Centerdatabase.

UNESCO (2008). Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. Retrieved on April 8, 2009, fromhttp://whc.unesco.org/en/dangerWildlife Tour & Travels (2008).

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. Retrieved on April 10, 2009, from http://www.wildlife-tour-india.com/wildlife-in-india/manas-wildlife-sanctuary.html