Good news comes to all wildlife lovers and conservationists working towards protection of the diverse flora, fauna and avifauna of Assam in the name of the Raimona National Park. Raimona National Park becomes the sixth National Park in Assam after Kaziranga National Park (UNESCO), Manas National Park (UNESCO), Nameri National Park, Orang National Park and Dibru Saikhowa National Park. Raimona National Park is located at the Kokrajhar district of Assam and the area covering the forest reserve of Raimona National Park is around 422 sq. km. and it is under the Bodoland Territorial Council of Assam. Raimona National Park was earlier known as the Ripu Reserve Forest and it was under the Manas National Park and Tiger Reserve – the World Heritage Site of Assam. In the time of the late 1980s and 1990s this forest reserve was under the threat of militancy and so was the forest reserves of Manas National Park as well to an extent that it was marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in danger and rampant poaching and felling of trees for timber trade was prevalent to fuel the fight of the Bodoland movement. These activities have been stopped long back and with the peace talks successful, the area of Manas National Park has now been a successful conservation story and today it is one of the most visited National Parks in Assam seeing visitors from various countries coming to Manas National Park to sight the varied flora, fauna and avifauna of the park.
The same has been proposed at the Raimona National Park, with the Hon. CM of Assam Dr. Himanta Biswa Sharma declaring the creation of the Raimona National Park as the sixth National Park of Assam marking the World Environment Day on the 5th June, 2021. Raimona National Park is famous for the species of the highly endangered primate species of the Golden Langur that have a population of only about 6000-6500 individuals living in the wild across Assam at the Manas National Park and the Raimona National Park and also in certain parts of Bhutan as well. The Golden Langur is an endemic species and it is also the mascot of the Bodoland region and with the introduction of Raimona National Park, various steps towards the conservation of this primate species can now be undertaken to increase its population to a much healthy number. Apart from the Golden Langur species, Raimona National Park is also home to Bengal Tigers, Clouded Leopard, Indian Elephants, Asiatic Wild Water Buffaloes, Great Indian Hornbills, Spotted Deer, Indian Gaur and around 170 species of birds, 150 species of butterflies and 380 varieties of orchids and plants that make it a biodiversity belt and the creation of Raimona National Park can be considered to be a great step by the Govt. of Assam towards fulfilling the UN vision of ecosystem restoration. Raimona National Park is located at the Kachugaon forest division under the Gossagaon sub-division in the Kokrajhar district of Assam in the Bodoland Territorial Region.
Raimona National Park is located at the southern foothills of the Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity hotspot and the park forms the westernmost buffer of the Manas National Park and Tiger Reserve. Raimona National Park forms a natural boundary with the Sankosh River on the west and it is also the interstate boundary of Assam and West Bengal and also the Indo-Bhutan border as well. The Saral Bhangna River forms a natural border of the Raimona National Park in the East and the southern boundary is formed by the Pekua River. With so many water bodies surrounding the vicinity of the Raimona National Park it is evident that the place will have a diverse flora and this in turn would allow to sustain the herbivores of the park and in turn the carnivores that prey of the herbivores thus proving the completion of the food chain. The abundant water bodies will also have a good aquatic life and this in turn will allow the avifauna of the Raimona National Park to flourish as well. The area of Raimona National Park was said to be historically the migratory route of the various fauna species from the Himalayan mountains, Indo-Malayan and the Indo-China realms towards the west and the fauna of the Indian Peninsula towards the east. The forest reserves of Raimona National Park shares a contagious forest patch with the Phibsoo Wildlife Sancturay and the Jigme Singye Wang chuck national Park in Bhutan and thus creating a Trans boundary conversion of landscape of over 2,400 sq. km.
The creation of the Ripu Reserve Forest to the Raimona National Park is a very good opportunity for the local people because tourism related activities will now be a source of revenue generation for the people who are now mostly dependant on agriculture and forest resources for their livelihood. The declaration to conserve the forest reserve of the Ripu Forest Reserve to the Raimona National Park to conserve the biodiversity will allow showcasing to the World its rich wildlife and biodiversity. Raimona National Park being an integral part of the 2,837km Manas Biosphere reserve and the Chirang-Ripu elephant reserve and this secured Trans boundary ecological landscape will ensure the long term conservation of the Golden Langur species and also the endangered Asian Elephants, the Bengal Tigers and also the Clouded Leopard species. With the introduction of a viable tourism circuit here at the Raimona National Park, and also around the contiguous protected areas of Bhutan will attract both National and Domestic tourists as well who will come to admire the grand wildlife and vast scenic beauty of the Raimona National Park along with the rich customs, traditions and the practices of the Bodo people of Assam here at Raimona National Park.
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The success of Raimona National Park as a viable tourist destination of Assam will depend a lot on the efforts put in by the local administration and the local people to promote it as a favored tourism destination in Assam. One perfect example of how tourism can transform the identity of a place is the Manas National Park and Tiger Reserve that was earlier just like Raimona National Park marred with a lot of insurgency and illegal activities along the late 1980s and 1990s. The animals here were poached and rampant felling of trees for the illegal timber trade was prevalent and Raimona National Park was even declared as a World Heritage Site in danger. Come the early 2000s, the people realized that terrorism was not a solution and concrete steps were necessary to bring back Manas. Many of the poachers laid down their arms and turned to protectors and now they form a part of the Manas Maozigendri Ecotourism Society that assists the Forest Department authorities to keep a vigil on any poaching related activities and also timber felling inside the park and prevent such activities. The infrastructure of the park was boosted and various resorts and camps were setup at the vicinity of the forest reserves of Manas National Park and today Manas has regained the UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is a renowned tourist destination of Assam seeing visitors from across the state, country and foreign countries as well.
The tourism related infrastructure has brought a lot of change to the majority of the local people who are not engaged across the various resorts and they are also a part in running the jeep safari rides, acting as local guides, chefs, etc. and the local community have setup ecotourism related activities as a way of providing the fringe villages of Manas National park and visitors get to admire the culture and traditions of the local people of Manas National Park. Raimona National Park being close to Manas National Park has a similar landscape and biodiversity and therefore with the place bring declared as a National Park, the infrastructure is sure to get a boost here and the local people will need to get involved to promote the biodiversity of the Raimona National Park to the World. Apart from conducting the jungle safari rides that will allow the visitors to Raimona National Park explore the flora, fauna and avifauna of the National Park, the local people who mostly belong to the Bodo tribe inhabiting the Kokrajhar district of Assam can highlight the ancient cultural and traditional practices to the visitors to Raimona National Park. The Bodo people are believed to be the oldest inhabitants of Assam who have settles in the state since times immemorial and they have a distinct traditional practice and cuisine and they also have a very colorful dance form called as the Bagurumba and this can be showcased to the visitors who will be coming to Raimona National Park and they will not only be limited to the wildlife of the Raimona National Park but will have the unique opportunity to participate in ecotourism related activities.
The local people of Raimona National Park can invite guests to their local villages and show them and also engage guests in their various traditional practices of agriculture farming, handicrafts making, handloom weaving, traditional fishing, silk worm rearing and harvesting, etc. and also allow guests to participate in the traditional cooking and rice wine brewing practices that will allow guests to appreciate their culture and also to savour the traditional wine and cuisne of the place. Visitors when they generally visit a National Park do not want to limit them to just the wildlife of the park but also want to learn more about the place when it comes to the culture of the place and the best example of the success story of this is the Manas National Park itself where the local people have showcased their culture and traditions to the visitors and they love to go out on guided tours across the local villages., They engage in various occupations of the local people and this in turn in a source of revenue generation. For example, when the visitors see the local women weaving on the traditional looms they get much more interest to make a purchase instead of just looking at the handloom at an emporium. Once they understand the effort involved in weaving one such handloom it is then they do not mind paying for the product.