Manas National Park
In early 2007 I had the pleasure of going to the North Indian state of Assam. My primary focus was to get some decent shots of the Greater one-horned Rhino in the Kaziranga National Park, but I was advised to include a visit to a smaller park called Manas by the folks at Wildlife Trails.
Manas is a little gem of a park which sits at the foot of the Bhutan Himalayas. It was my first stop on my maiden India trip. Although I had read about the troubles in the 80’s and 90’s I saw no visible evidence of any unrest or malice towards tourists. However, the devastation of years of poaching had left its mark, and it’s only in the last ten years that the park is said to be making a comeback.
Rhino had been wiped out here during the Bodo insurgency, and at the time of my visit, the Manas authorities had a male and a female living in an outdoor enclosure with the hope of eventual release. It’s going to take a few years before they feel confident to let this species reclaim what was its natural range.
Even with the history of poaching, I still had wonderful encounters with good populations of Indian elephant and Asian Water Buffalo to keep me busy. The biggest thrill was my first and only elephant ride. Standing on the raised platform in the early morning mist and watching these silent grey ghosts swaying down the paths towards me was a magical Rudyard Kipling moment indeed. Sitting on the back of a big female elephant is a wondrous experience as you head into the park and silently move amongst the animals and myriad of bird species.
P.S. I’ve never endorsed elephant rides of any kind for human entertainment. Only anti-poaching units which are now utilised in the Leuser ecosystem should make use of these type of working elephants
The accommodation was simple, clean and with a steady electrical current. Digital photography may have alleviated the need to lug hundreds of rolls of film around the planet with you, but now you need to carry cables and chargers and spend your time fretting about where the next power source is.
I had a really rewarding time in this quiet park and as the wildlife recovers and the tourists flood back in it will guarantee a tranquil place for future generations
Indian elephant, Asian Water Buffalo, Captive one horn Rhino, Gaur, Swamp deer, Hog deer. A variety of bird species.
Special thanks to the folks at Wildlife Trails
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