A world of vivid green, exuberant flora and endemic fauna – Northeast India leaves an indelible impression on anyone who is lucky to visit the region. It has been bestowed with a unique eco-climate and bio-geography, thanks to the tectonic dance that saw the birth of the mighty Himalaya 50-60 million years ago when the Indian sub-continent collided with the Eurasian land mass.Part of the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot, the impressive range of biomes here is home to highly specialised and endemic species. With a remarkable 54 per cent of its geographical area under forest cover, the region is indeed a jewel in India’s crown. The fate of the native people of the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura is irrevocably intertwined with that of these wildernesses.
I have been documenting the biodiversity of the Northeast for several years. Through my images, I hope to share with you the wonders of this incredible landscape.
Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis
The face of old growth forests – wet evergreen and mixed deciduous, Great Hornbills are the largest hornbill species in India. This individual flew over our safari jeep in Kaziranga, forcing me to take an overhead shot.
Royal Bengal tiger Panthera tigris tigris
From across the Brahmaputra river, emerged an ethereal striped form from the thick grass/reeds in the Orang National Park, Assam, blessing me with this frame despite the dying light. With a core area spanning all of 78.28 sq. km., the smallest core of any tiger reserve in the country, the Orang Tiger Reserve boasts of a high density of the big cats.
Greater One-horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis
Also known as ‘Mini Kaziranga’, the Orang Tiger Reserve also boasts of a healthy population of rhinos. Poaching had decimated the rhino population in the park not too long ago, but sustained efforts have led to their recovery; this frame of a mother and calf being a testament to that.
Hog deer Axis porcinus
The endangered hog deer recently made news when DNA analysis revealed the presence of a small population of a new sub-species Axis porcinus annamiticus in Manipur, that was hitherto thought to be restricted to Thailand in Southeast Asia. I photographed this mother and fawn in Orang.
Sela Pass, Arunachal Pradesh
The picturesque Sela Lake sits partially frozen on the mountain at an elevation of 4,170 m. near Sela Pass, in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh. This area sees snowfall for most part of the year and bears religious significance for Buddhists. The pristine beauty of this high-altitude wilderness took my breath away.
Kaziranga Tiger Reserve, Assam
Park management is a complex ball game. To maintain the crucial grassland habitat of the rhino and other grassland specialists in the Kaziranga Tiger Reserve, the forest staff resorts to scientific, controlled burning of grassland patches. This helps keep invasion by the non-grassland plant species at bay and enhances the nutritional value by allowing the growth of new shoots, which herbivores devour.
Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis
Though common in the Northeast, this striking, non-parasitic cuckoo, is a photographer’s delight. Photographed in the Garbhanga Reserve Forest of Guwahati in Assam, the lime-green bill, blood red patch, greyish-green feathers and the elegant, long tail coupled with good light while in the forest, made me immortalise the bird in this frame.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXIX No. 4, April 2019.