Jun 22

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary in the eastern Himalayan foothills of India is on the road to recovery, as illegal logging and wildlife poaching have declined and wildlife populations have increased. 

Following the advice of the IUCN, this protected area has now been removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Photo of Indian rhinoceros covered in mud, with mynah birds along back

Indian rhinoceros

A rapid decline in wildlife and the eradication of the Indian rhino during a decade-long insurgency led to the inscription of Manas Wildlife Sanctuary on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1992. 

However, a UNESCO/IUCN monitoring mission to the sanctuary earlier this year noted that huge progress has been made to increase the populations of key species, including tigers, Asian elephants and Indian rhinos. Threats have declined significantly and the park infrastructure has improved, according to the mission report. 

The great efforts by the Indian authorities to support recovery of wildlife populations and improve the overall park management have brought about a positive change for one of India’s natural treasures,” says Tim Badman, Director of the IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. 

The Sanctuary is on a good track, but the work and funding to secure its future need to be sustained.”

Photo of barasingha with velvet on antlers

Barasingha with velvet on antlers

Reintroduction of the Indian rhino to Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is currently underway, with funding for conservation projects secure until the end of the year. 

The mission report recommended that a restoration programme be established for the barasingha, also known as the swamp deer, as it seems unlikely that this species will recover without direct conservation efforts. It also suggested that a tourism management plan be developed with local communities, so that ecotourism can be established as an alternative livelihood. 

Peter Shadie, Deputy Head of IUCN Delegation, added “While the focus of media and public attention is usually on the new sites to be added to the World Heritage List, the protection of sites already on the list plays an equally important role in ensuring the future of our world heritage.” 

The List of World Heritage in Danger is a practical way of providing support to the sites that need it the most.”

Read the IUCN press release – Manas Wildlife Sanctuary on the road to recovery. 

View more images and videos of the Indian rhinoceros on ARKive. 

Alex Royan, ARKive Species Text Author