Sunday, July 2, 2023

Manas Biosphere Reserve

Manas Biosphere Reserve UPSC

The Manas Biosphere Reserve is a protected area located in the northeastern state of Assam, India. It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and serves as a vital conservation area for various endangered species.

Manas is known for its rich biodiversity and is home to several endangered and threatened species. It serves as a habitat for the Indian elephant, Indian rhinoceros, Bengal tiger, clouded leopard, golden langur, pygmy hog, and numerous species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

Table of Contents

  • Manas Biosphere Reserve Location
  • Manas Biosphere Reserve History
  • Manas Biosphere Reserve Area
  • Manas Biosphere Reserve Hills
  • Manas Biosphere Reserve River
    • Manas River
  • Manas Biosphere Reserve Flora
  • Manas Biosphere Reserve Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptile
    • Amphibians
    • Fish
  • Top Things to do in Manas Biosphere Reserve
  • Manas Biosphere Reserve UPSC Questions

Manas Biosphere Reserve Location

The Manas Biosphere Reserve is located in the northeastern state of Assam, India. It spans across the districts of Bongaigaon and Barpeta. The reserve is situated at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas and shares its international border with Bhutan.

Manas Biosphere Reserve Nearest Airport:

The nearest airport to the Manas Biosphere Reserve is the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, also known as Guwahati Airport. It is located in Guwahati, the largest city in Assam. The airport is approximately 176 kilometers (109 miles) away from the Manas Biosphere Reserve. From the airport, you can travel to the reserve by road.

Manas Biosphere Reserve Nearest Railway Station:

As for the nearest railway station, the closest one to the Manas Biosphere Reserve is the Barpeta Road Railway Station. It is situated in the town of Barpeta Road, which is approximately 22 kilometers (14 miles) away from the reserve. From the railway station, you can hire local transportation or take a taxi to reach the biosphere reserve.

Manas Biosphere Reserve History

The Manas Biosphere Reserve has a rich and diverse history that spans several centuries. Here is a brief overview:

Ancient and Indigenous Presence: The region surrounding the Manas Biosphere Reserve has a long history of human habitation. Indigenous communities, such as the Bodo and Adivasi tribes, have inhabited the area for centuries and have a deep connection with the land and its biodiversity.

Colonial Era: During the colonial era, the area now encompassing the biosphere reserve was part of the British-controlled Assam Province. The Manas region was primarily used for tea cultivation, with several tea estates established in the surrounding areas.

Wildlife Sanctuary: In 1950, it was declared Manas Wildlife Sanctuary to protect the Bengal tiger and other endangered species. 

Tiger Reserve: Manas Wildlife Sanctuary was designated as a Tiger Reserve under the Project Tiger in 1973.

Manas Biosphere Reserve UNESCO

UNESCO World Heritage Site: In 1985, the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding universal value. It was recognized for its unique combination of natural beauty, biodiversity, and cultural significance. 

Biosphere Reserve: In 1989, the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary was expanded and designated as the Manas Biosphere Reserve by government of India.

National Park Status: Manas Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a National Park in 1990.

Manas Biosphere Reserve Area

The Manas Biosphere Reserve covers a significant area of approximately 950 square kilometers (367 square miles).The area of the biosphere reserve includes a diverse range of ecosystems, including grasslands, wetlands, riverine habitats, and dense forests. 

Manas Biosphere Reserve Hills

The Manas Biosphere Reserve is situated at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, and while it primarily consists of low-lying areas, it does have some hilly terrain within its boundaries. The reserve encompasses parts of the Bhutan Hills, which are an extension of the Eastern Himalayan range.

These hilly areas contribute to the overall topographical diversity of the Manas Biosphere Reserve and provide critical habitats for various species. The elevation gradually increases as you move towards the border with Bhutan, offering scenic landscapes and panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys.

Manas Biosphere Reserve River

The Manas Biosphere Reserve is traversed by the Manas River, which is an integral part of the reserve's ecosystem. The Manas River flows through the heart of the biosphere reserve, originating in Bhutan and entering India at the Bhutan-India border. It meanders through the reserve before eventually joining the mighty Brahmaputra River.

The Manas River is significant for the biodiversity and hydrology of the reserve. It serves as a lifeline for the flora and fauna that inhabit the region, providing a water source for the diverse ecosystems within the biosphere reserve. The river and its associated riparian habitats support a variety of aquatic species, including fish, reptiles, and amphibians.

The flow of the Manas River also plays a crucial role in shaping the landscape of the biosphere reserve, contributing to the formation and maintenance of wetlands, floodplains, and riverine forests. These habitats provide important nesting and feeding grounds for numerous bird species and other wildlife.

Manas Biosphere Reserve Flora

The Manas Biosphere Reserve is known for its rich and diverse flora, with a wide range of vegetation types found within its boundaries. The reserve's location at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas contributes to its exceptional botanical diversity. 

Here are some notable flora species found in the Manas Biosphere Reserve:

(1) Subtropical Evergreen Forests:

In the higher elevations of the reserve, you can find subtropical evergreen forests. These forests are characterized by a diverse range of tree species, including Castanopsis indica, Mesua ferrea, and Cinnamomum tamala.

(2) Deciduous Forests:

The biosphere reserve is characterized by deciduous forests that consist of trees such as Sal (Shorea robusta), Simul (Bombax ceiba), Khair (Acacia catechu), and Sissoo (Dalbergia sissoo). These forests are found in the lower regions of the reserve and are home to a diverse range of plant species.

(3) Grasslands:

The reserve includes vast expanses of grasslands, which support various grass species such as Imperata cylindrica, Saccharum spontaneum, and Phragmites karka. These grasslands provide important feeding grounds for herbivores and serve as nesting sites for birds.

(4) Riverine Forests: 

Along the banks of the Manas River and its tributaries, you can find riverine forests that are dominated by trees like Lagerstroemia speciosa, Bombax ceiba, and Terminalia myriocarpa. These forests provide important habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species.

(5) Wetlands:

The Manas Biosphere Reserve also encompasses wetlands, including marshes, swamps, and oxbow lakes. These areas are characterized by vegetation like water lilies (Nymphaea spp.), lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), and reeds (Phragmites spp.), providing habitat for aquatic plants and wildlife.

Manas Biosphere Reserve Fauna (Manas Biosphere Reserve Animals)

The Manas Biosphere Reserve is renowned for its rich and diverse fauna, with numerous species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish inhabiting its various ecosystems. Here are some notable fauna species found in the Manas Biosphere Reserve:

(1) Mammals: The reserve is home to several iconic mammal species, including the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), Wild Water Buffalo, Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), Red Panda, Indian leopard (Panthera pardus), clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), golden langur (Trachypithecus geei), and pygmy hog (Porcula salvania). It also supports populations of other carnivores like the Indian leopard cat, fishing cat, and dhole (Indian wild dog).

(2) Birds: The Manas Biosphere Reserve is a haven for avian diversity, with over 500 species of birds recorded. Some notable bird species include the Bengal florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis), great hornbill (Buceros bicornis), wreathed hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus), white-winged wood duck (Asarcornis scutulata), black stork (Ciconia nigra), and many species of eagles, owls, kingfishers, and herons.

(3) Reptiles: The reserve is home to a variety of reptiles, including the endangered Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), Indian python (Python molurus), King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), Indian cobra (Naja naja), and several species of turtles and tortoises.

(4) Amphibians: The Manas Biosphere Reserve is known for its diverse amphibian fauna, with species such as the Asian common toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus), Assam roofed turtle (Pangshura sylhetensis), and various frog species, including the endangered Manas Valley cascade frog (Amolops manas).

(5) Fish: The Manas River and its tributaries support a rich aquatic ecosystem, with several species of fish, including the golden mahseer (Tor putitora), chocolate mahseer (Neolissochilus hexagonolepis), and various catfish species.

Top Things to do in Manas Biosphere Reserve

When visiting the Manas Biosphere Reserve, there are several activities and experiences that you can engage in to make the most of your visit. Here are some top things to do in the Manas Biosphere Reserve:

(1) Wildlife Safari: Embark on an exciting wildlife safari within the reserve to spot and observe the diverse fauna. You can explore the park on jeep safaris or elephant-back safaris accompanied by knowledgeable guides. Keep an eye out for majestic animals such as tigers, rhinos, elephants, and various bird species.

(2) River Rafting: Experience the thrill of river rafting on the Manas River, which flows through the reserve. It offers an adventurous way to explore the river's scenic beauty and observe the surrounding flora and fauna. Professional guides and equipment are available to ensure your safety.

(3) Nature Walks and Bird Watching: Take leisurely nature walks along designated trails within the reserve. Enjoy the tranquility of the forest, listen to the sounds of nature, and spot the diverse birdlife. Manas Biosphere Reserve is a haven for bird watchers, with numerous species to discover.

(4) Village Visit and Cultural Exchange: Explore the traditional lifestyle and culture of the local indigenous communities living around the reserve. Visit nearby villages, interact with the locals, and learn about their unique traditions, handicrafts, and cuisine. It provides a valuable cultural experience and a chance to support local communities.

(5) River Camping: Experience the beauty of the Manas River by camping on its banks. Enjoy a night under the stars, surrounded by the serene ambiance of the reserve. Listen to the sounds of nature and immerse yourself in the peacefulness of the surroundings.

(6) Photography: The Manas Biosphere Reserve offers stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife, making it a paradise for photographers. Capture the breathtaking scenery, wildlife encounters, and unique flora and fauna species to create lasting memories.

(7) Nature Interpretation Centers: Visit the nature interpretation centers within the reserve to gain a deeper understanding of its biodiversity, conservation efforts, and the significance of the Manas Biosphere Reserve. These centers provide educational exhibits and information about the reserve's ecology.

Manas Biosphere Reserve UPSC Questions

Q. Manas Biosphere Reserve is located in which state?/Where is Manas Biosphere Reserve located?

A. The Manas Biosphere Reserve is located in the northeastern state of Assam, India. It is situated in the districts of Bongaigaon and Barpeta. 

Q. When Manas was declared as biosphere reserve?/Manas Biosphere Reserve in which year?

A. Manas was declared as biosphere reserve in 1989 by government of India.

Q. Is Manas a biosphere reserve under UNESCO?

A. Manas Biosphere Reserve is not listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is, however, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, which is part of the larger Manas Biosphere Reserve, was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1985 for its outstanding universal value in terms of biodiversity and conservation significance.

Q. Why is Manas Biosphere Reserve famous?

A. The Manas Biosphere Reserve is famous for several reasons, which contribute to its international recognition and popularity. Here are some key reasons why the Manas Biosphere Reserve is renowned:

  • Rich Biodiversity
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Conservation Success
  • Cultural Significance
  • Scenic Beauty
  • Tourism and Ecotourism

Manas Biosphere Reserve

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