December 11, 2011: Dear all, The Karbi hills are integral to the Kaziranga Karbi Anglong Elephant Reserve and The East and North Karbi Anglong Wildlife Sanctuaries together constitute the 16th Important Bird Area (IBA) of Assam. The two Wildlife Sanctuaries are Biodiversity Rich Locations identified through Global and National Priority Setting Exercises and are Sites identified by the Conservation International for investments through the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund.
Even beyond these few protected reserves, the forests of Karbi Anglong are home to several endangered species of wildlife or serve as corridor to moving herds of mammals and birds. Besides being a corridor for the Asiatic Elephant, these forests are inhabited by the Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, the Serow, Gaur, several species of primates, deer, cats & bears, pangolin, pheasants, partridges, hornbills, turtles & tortoises, reptiles, etc. The increasing instances of man- animal conflict all along the Karbi Anglong borders is a fallout of the degradation of the forest habitat. Some of the intensely effected areas of Human- Elephant Conflict are located in the Karbi foothills, as herds of elephants enter human habitation in search of food. Rampant forest destruction in Karbi Anglong is responsible for the degradation of the wildlife habitat which forces animals to seek refuge or fodder in human settlements.
In spite of repeated concerns regarding the degradation of the Karbi Anglong landscape, large scale felling of trees continue unabated. The Telegraph had carried a story on June 19, 2011 regarding the concern of the Union ministry of environment and forests over environmental degradation along the hills of Karbi Anglong in proximity to Kaziranga National Park. Link to story http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110719/jsp/northeast/story_14254677.jsp The Assam Tribune also carried a report on timber smuggling on August 31, 2011; http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=aug3111/state06. This Times of India report of September 21, 2011 http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-09-21/guwahati/30183901_1_forest-staff-timber-karbi-anglong also highlights the fact that media coverage has not dampened the spirits of those determined to destroy the Karbi hills forever.
The last couple of months represent a landmark in the destruction of the Karbi hills landscape. If earlier the felling of trees was an illegal and covert operation, it has now become institutionalized. The Karbi Anglong Autonomous District Council facilitated the denudation of large areas by handing over pattas or ownership documents to some well connected persons. These new land owners did not waste time in getting cutting orders issued from the district forest officials to clear the private plots. This has resulted in large scale and unprecedented destruction of the forest cover, home to several endangered species of wildlife. A visit to two villages, Longkoi Lekthe & Salbari, both located in the Parkup area, was an eyeopener to the level of forest destruction going on in full view and knowledge of everyone, as seen in the attached photographs. Is there still a standing order from the Honorable Supreme Court of India prohibiting felling of trees ? At this rate of destruction, the landscape of Karbi Anglong will be totally and irretrievably destroyed in a few years and a bleak future awaits the inhabitants of the district.
Please forward to all those who matter and can take appropriate action to save the Karbi hills before it's too late.
Green Guard Nature Organization