Villagers in West Assam resist sanctuary tag for langur habitat

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Villagers in West Assam resist sanctuary tag for langur habitat

  • The upgradation of Kakoijana Reserve Forest by the State government to a sanctuary is being opposed by the neighbouring villagers
  • The villagers have been protecting and conserving the flora and fauna of Kakoijana Reserve Forest for more than 25 year which is a golden langur habitat in western Assam’s Bongaigaon district
  • The Assam Forest Department had issued a preliminary notification for converting it into the Kakoijana Bamuni Hill Wildlife Sanctuary.

Conservation Efforts

  • According to the memorandum submitted by the villagers to the DC, the area has been conserved by them since long time as a sacred groove
  • As primary stakeholders, they have demanded that the “conventional idea of wildlife sanctuary” be dropped and the reserve forest converted into a community forest resource “using Forest Rights Act, 2006, to ensure community co-managed system of participation for sustainable conservation”.
  • It has also been pointed out by them that the conservation efforts of the locals had helped the authorities concerned to restore the forest canopy from less than 5% to more than 70%, and the golden langur population from less than 100 to more than 600 over almost three decades.

Golden langur

  • Its scientific name is Trachypithecus geei
  • It is found only in Assam and Bhutan
  • It is a Schedule-I species under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
  • It is being included in Appendix I of CITES
  • It is declared as Endangered in IUCN list of threatened species
  • It is listed as among the world’s 25 most endangered primates.

About Wildlife sanctuaries

  • The state governments have absolute powers to constitute reserved forests, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries
  • A wildlife sanctuary is defined by the State Government via a Notification.
  • No alteration of boundaries in wildlife sanctuaries can be done without approval of the NBWL (National Board of Wildlife)
  • The State Government can declare any place, other than reserve forests or territorial waters, as a sanctuary if it is of sufficient ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural, or zoological value for the aim of safeguarding, propagating, or developing wildlife or its habitat.
  • No grazing of any livestock is permitted inside a National Park while in a Sanctuary, the Chief Wildlife Warden may regulate, control or prohibit it.
  • There are a total of 566 wildlife sanctuaries in India.

Conservation reserves and Community forests

  • These phrases refer to Indian protected areas that serve as buffer zones, connectors, and migration corridors between established national parks, animal sanctuaries, and India's reserved and protected forests.
  • Conservation Reserves are declared if the land is unoccupied and totally held by the government of India, although it is utilised for sustenance by communities, while Community Reserves are designated if a portion of the land is privately owned.
  • The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act of 2002, which amended the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, was the first to add these protected area classifications.
  • These categories were introduced to address the lack of protection in and near existing or planned protected areas due to private land ownership and land usage

Way forward

  • As the villagers neighbouring the forest are conserving the area and its fauna on their own by considering it as a sacred groove, the government should take any decision by considering all the issues and consulting all the stakeholders.