GUWAHATI, July 30: Prime species at the world-famed Manas National Park had become a major casualty of the ethno- political conflict in the park in between late 1980s and 2003.
A study, conducted by some researchers and wildlife activists, has found that the political-ethno conflict from late 1980s till 2003 had influenced the distribution pattern of several key species in Manas National Park.
The study says the ethno-political conflict had an impact on the abundance and distribution of species and habitats. While the mammalian species assemblage in the park appears to be intact, differences were detected among the photo capture rates of several species between Panbari (a forest range under conflict until 2016) and Bansbari-Bhuyanpara (forest ranges that have been conflict-free since 2003).
The study was conducted by noted researchers Dipankar Lahkar, M. Firoz Ahmed, Ramie H. Begum, Sunit Kumar Das, Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar and Abishek Harihar.
The national park in lower Assam had experienced an intense ethno-political conflict from the late 1980s till 2003, which completely halted conservation efforts. According to the study the disturbances, however, were more because of armed militants camping deep inside the Panbari range two to three years preceding the survey, rather than ethnic conflict or severe anthropogenic disturbances because of natural resource collection.
“Thus, the disturbances within the park during that period were mostly related to hunting (potentially ungulate species) for food by those camping inside as well as subsequent sanitisation operations by government forces,” the study says.
Only in 2017 surveys could be undertaken simultaneously across all three ranges of Manas – Panbari, Bansbari and Bhuyanpara.