The monsoon forests of Manas lie in the semi-evergreen forests ecoregion of Panbang, in the south of Zhemgang bordering with Assam. The combination of Sub-Himalayan vegetation formation with riverine succession leading up to the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests makes it one of the richest biodiversity areas in the world.
Much of the riverine dry deciduous forest is at an early successional stage. It is replaced by moist deciduous forest away from water courses, which is succeeded by semi-evergreen forest in the northern part of the park. A total of 543 plants species have been recorded from the core zone. Of these, 374 species are dicotyledons (including 89 trees), 139 species monocotyledons and 30 are Pteridophytes and Gymnosperms.
The park's common trees include Aphanamixis polystachya, Anthocephalus chinensis, Syzygium cumini, Syzygium formosum, Syzygium oblatum, Bauhinia purpurea, Mallotus philippensis, Cinnamomum tamala, Actinodaphne obvata, Bombax ceiba, Sterculia villosa, Dillenia indica, Dillenia pentagyna, Careya arborea, Lagerstroemia parviflora, Lagerstroemia speciosa, Terminalia bellirica, Terminalia chebula, Trewia polycarpa, Gmelina arborea, Oroxylum indicum and Bridelia spp. The grasslands are dominated by Imperata cylindrica, Saccharum naranga, Phragmites karka, Arundo donax, Dillenia pentagyna, Phyllanthus emblica, Bombax ceiba, and species of Clerodendrum, Leea, Grewia, Premna and Mussaenda.
The Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) has recorded 55 species of mammals, 380 species of birds, 50 of reptiles, and 3 species of amphibians.
The fauna of the park include Indian elephants, Indian rhinoceros, gaurs, Asian water buffaloes, barasingha, Indian tigers, Indian leopards, clouded leopards, Asian golden cats, dholes, capped langurs, golden langurs, Assamese macaques, slow loris, hoolock gibbons, smooth-coated otters, sloth bears, barking deers, hog deers, black panthers, sambar deers and chitals.
The Manas hosts more than 450 species of birds. It has the largest population of the endangered Bengal florican to be found anywhere. Other major bird species include great hornbills, jungle fowls, bulbuls, brahminy ducks, kalij pheasants, egrets, pelicans, fishing eagles, crested serpent-eagles, falcons, scarlet minivets, bee-eaters, magpie robins, pied hornbills, grey hornbills, mergansers, harriers, Indian Peafowl, ospreys and herons.
Birds help in sustaining our environment
By virtue, we humans have ensconced a hierarchy among all the beings due to which we tend to take a lot of things for granted, ignoring just to fulfill our selfish motives. If the trend continues the day isn’t far when we will prove the cliché, “when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then we will realize that one cannot eat money.” One such thing we never care to think twice about are birds that accommodate this planet along with us. A lot of us don’t know the significance of birds in our daily lives like its ecological importance, scavenging to assist farmers, a natural propagator and serving as a tool of science to diagnose the health of our environment.
By far, birds are best understood component of our natural world due to its historic significance and sustaining our daily environment. It is time we must unite together with reliable statistics on how to protect bird species by safeguarding their habitats. It is time for all of us to ‘think globally, act locally’, for the continuity of our environment.
Why is counting of birds so important? It is because birds tell us a lot about the health of our environment. Like the White–bellied heron already on the edge of extinction has already posed serious concern for viable environment and the fate of the ecosystem is already at risk.
Birds are insistently migrating to uncommonly altitudes signaling to relentless destruction of its natural habitats. Like intensive agriculture and urbanization are the outstanding drivers for the cause. However, these all can be easily overcome but only through the active service of mankind.
Birds keep farmers in their farm business intact by providing helping hand to control different pests. As a son of a farmer –I have personally seen different birds safeguarding potato and orchards field from insect devastation. For which there are no safe pesticides that can kill these insects. Birds also perhaps do the least services of eating dead bodies of insects and animals thus control different diseases. Birds also add advantages for effective pollination and help in free shipping of different seeds to different location.
Researchers often use different birds to predict the health of our ecosystems, check wetlands health to radioactive contagion. Recently scientists have also use birds to study the effect of global heating.
However, for better or worse, economic arguments always hit more political concern but never about good environment. I feel bird’s life matter in a similar manner like how a single bolt and nut matters to the success of car running.
Birds are nature’s greatest expression of grace and beauty. Which keeps our ecosystem in balanced for all time? And as hierarchical being we should always strive to maintain the balance, if not we will end up with William Wordsworth expression ‘what man has made of man.’
Contributed by Sancha Bdr. Rai, Teacher, Zhemgang Central School.