The Dampa Tiger Reserve receives rainfall, ranging from 2,000 mm. to 2,500 mm. The minimum temperature in the reserve is 3.50C and the maximum temperature is 350C. The climate throughout the year at the Dampa Tiger Reserve is pleasant and warm and during the months November and December the area receives moderately chilly climate at higher altitudes. The best months to visit the Dampa Tiger Reserve are November to February.
There are forest guesthouses available at Dampa Rengpui.
The Dampa Tiger Reserve is 133 sq. km. away from Aizawl in Mizoram. The Dampa Tiger Reserve still retains some of its remoteness and is not easily accessible. However, there has been some 'development' in the form of communication systems and roads.
By Air: The Lengpui Airport is 70 km. from the Dampa Tiger Reserve. There is daily Vayudoot air service between Kolkata and Aizawl.
By Rail: Silchar, located 180 km. from Aizawl is the nearest railhead.
By Road: Mizoram State Transport buses ply regularly between Silchar and Aizawl.
The Dampa Tiger Reserve is home to the magnificent tiger Panthera tigris and a host of other species including the leopard Panthera pardus, clouded leopard, jungle cat, elephant Elephas maximus and gaur. It is a great feeling to actually sight the tiger but it is as exciting to spot pugmarks and realise that a tiger is somewhere in the vicinity. The reserve supports a variety of primates including Phayre's leaf monkey, Rhesus macaque and the common langur. The 'hookoo-hookoo' calls of the endangered hoolock gibbon Hylobates hoolock reverberates through the forest. Himalayan black bear Selenarctos thibetanus, sloth bear, sambar Cervus unicolor, goral Nemorhaedus goral and pangolin Manis crassicaudata are also found with swamp deer Cervus duvauceli frequenting the lower reaches. Several smaller species including the slow loris, serow, binturong, wild dog, wild boar and the otter have made these forests their home. The giant flying squirrel and the Fellas squirrel are highlights of the Dampa Tiger Reserve. The reptilian population shows amazing diversity. Snakes such as the python Python molurus and the king cobra Naja naja are fairly common as well as a range of geckos and lizards.
Various species of birds are found in the reserve including three hornbill species, namely, the Great Hornbill Bucaros bicornis, Wreathed Hornbill Rhyticeros undulates and the Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthraccoceros albirostris. The area is also known to be home to various species of woodpeckers, including the Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulperulentus, Greater Yellownaped Woodpecker Picus falvinucha, Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotta, Greater Flameback Picus chlorolophus, Greyfaced Woodpecker Picus canus and the Paleheaded Woodpecker Gecinulds grantic. There are also a variety of phasianids, including Black Partridge Francolinus francolinus, Black-breasted Quail Coturnix coromandelica, Jungle Bush-quail Perdicula asiatica and pheasants.
The Dampa Tiger Reserve lies at longitude 92013'12" to 92027'24" East and latitude 23032'42" to 23041'36" North. The Tropic of Cancer passes through the centre of the reserve. The total area of the Dampa Tiger Reserve is 500 sq. km., consisting of a core of 340 sq. km. and a buffer area of 160 sq. km. To the west of the Dampa Tiger Reserve lies the Philliang town down to the Phuldung sea. The terrain is mostly hilly and undulating with the average altitude ranging from 500 to 1,200 m. Phawngpui is the highest peak in the Blue Mountains at an elevation of 2,210 m. The Koldoyne or Chhimtuipui river, which originates in Myanmar, drains southern Mizoram. The western parts are drained by Karnaphuli or Khawthlang tuipui also called the Sazalui or the Tuilianpui river towards the west and the Teirei river towards the east and its tributaries, Keisalam, Seling and Aivapui. There are extensive flatlands along the rivers, drained by numerous nullahs, especially in the lower reaches. At higher altitudes, artificial salt licks have been constructed.
Vegetation and Flora
The Dampa Tiger Reserve consists of tropical evergreen, semi-evergreen, tropical moist deciduous and sub-montane type of vegetation in the Dampa tlâng and Chhawrpial tlâng. The main flora in the lower altitudes consists of vegetation such as Dipterocarpus turbinatus, D. macrocarpus, Artrocarpus chalpasa, Adina cordinofolia, Duabanga sonneratiodes, Chukrasia tabularis, Amoora wallichii, Syzygium cumini and Toona ciliate. Bamboo Bombax ceiba and cane are confined to the lower parts of the forest. Ferns and exotic orchids grow profusely here. C.E.C. Fisher had reported 152 species of orchids in the hills and valleys of Mizoram in The Flora of the Lushai Hills. Natural grasslands predominate at higher altitudes, with herbs such as the cobra's saffron Mesua ferrea with pretty white flowers growing here.
There is a 14 km. trail from the Dampa Rengpui forest rest house to the Tieri traverses in the core of the buffer zone. It is recommended to take this trail as it gives visitors a great opportunity to appreciate the beauty and tranquility in the forests. It provides a unique learning experience. The trail is a rough hilly track. During the trail care should be taken to spot pug marks, scats, scratch marks and other such signs that indicate the presence of the tiger. This is many a time the closest one can get to the tiger, as it is quite shy of humans and is mainly a nocturnal predator.
For entry into Mizoram, people other than Government employees must obtain the Inner Line pass from the Liaison Officer, Government of Mizoram, at Silchar or Kolkata.
To be able to enjoy the peace and tranquility that the Dampa Tiger Reserve offers, one should be as quiet as possible and should avoid playing loud music or indulge in loud conversation.
The best colour to wear is khaki, brown or olive green.
It is recommended that you venture into the reserve accompanied by a good and experienced guide.
Avoid polluting the environment as far possible and do not damage the flora and fauna of the area.
Always carry a camera to capture the beautiful sights, and carrying binoculars is essential.
Field Director, Dampa Tiger Reserve, Dampa Forest Teirei, District Aizwal, Mizoram – 796001.
Mizoram House, Christian Basti, G.S. Road, Guwahati – 788005. Tel.: 0361-5642.
Mizoram House, Cleve Colony, Tripura Castle Road, Shillong – 793003. Tel.: 0364-225689/ 225068.
Mizoram House, Rangir Kharia, Silchar – 788005. Tel.: 03842-20142.
Mizoram House, Circular Road, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi – 110021. Tel.: 011-23015951/ 23016408.
The Dampa region was governed by tribal chiefs during the 1950s and the land was used mainly for slash-and-burn shifting jhum cultivation in the lower reaches.
The region was declared as reserved forest in 1952 by the District Council. During the 1960s, small hamlets started establishing themselves in these areas, which began to have an adverse impact on the biodiversity of the region.
In 1974, the need to preserve the diminishing biodiversity of the region was recognised and Dampa was declared a wildlife sanctuary on January 20, 1976. It was renotified as a wildlife sanctuary in 1985 and in 1994, the area was declared a tiger reserve.
The name 'Dampa' has originated from the words, 'Dam' meaning 'healthy' and 'Pa' meaning 'man' implying that Dampa is 'a place where healthy men survive'. The tribes living in the Dampa region are shrouded in tradition and superstition.
At the time of re-notification of the sanctuary in 1985, there were 13 villages within the forest, with around 480 families. There are now about 10 villages around the reserve, mostly consisting of Mizo, Chakma and Tuikuk tribes. The main occupation of these tribes is jhum cultivation, which has been practiced for over three centuries. The process involves burning of hill slopes to create ground for cultivating crops such as rice, millet, maize and vegetables. The farmers cut the trees and clear the undergrowth in a green patch. The area is left exposed to the sun for drying. The area is then burnt and the ashes are used as fertiliser. Crops are grown on this cleared land and after harvesting the land, the cultivators move to another green patch.
Cultivators often resort to hunting supposedly to "protect" their crops and hunters were considered brave and honoured in the tribe. Excellent hunters were given the title Tranchua if they could bring down animals such as barking deer, bear, wild boar, sambar, eagle or viper. A Tranchua was believed to attain paradise after death. Pasalta was the title given to the best hunter in the tribe who is also allowed the privilege of marrying the most beautiful woman in the tribe. The homes of the Pasalta are lined trophies and other awards.