By Pralay Lahiry
Tucked in a corner of Upper Assam in Bherjan survives a small population of about 35 Western Hoolock Gibbons (Hoolock hoolock). Their lowland evergreen forests have been wiped out and these apes are marooned in an island of tamul or areca nut trees (Areca catechu) and some high canopy trees hemmed in by villages. Fortunately, the villagers are tolerant of these primates and have started protecting these endangered apes and efforts are underway to restore the corridors for their free movement. This fragment broadly falls under the . Bherjan – Borajan – Podumoni Wildlife Sanctuary which houses several such small fragments.
An interesting study titled “Trends in extinction and persistence of diurnal primates in the fragmented lowland rainforests of the upper Brahmaputra valley, northeastern India” by Narayan Sharma et al quotes:
“The historical deforestation of the Upper Brahmaputra Valley in the Indian state of Assam has resulted in the transformation of its once-contiguous lowland rainforests into many isolated forest fragments that are still rich in species, including primates. However, these fragments need to be protected and managed proactively. As it is not feasible to establish corridors between these fragments, given their high degree of isolation, better protection of the existing fragments by the local forest department is the only realistic conservation option. The local communities in the Valley, which depend on these fragments for their daily needs, are generally tolerant of primates. To secure the future of this diverse primate assemblage of the last remaining forest fragments in this human-dominated valley, conservation initiatives by the forest department, in collaboration with local NGOs, are required to balance habitat protection with the provision of alternative resources for local communities”. Nice photo.
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