GUWAHATI- In recognition of their 20-year commitment towards the revival of the Greater Manas landscape, Mr. Azzedine Downes, President and CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), USA and Mr. Vivek Menon, Founder and Executive Director, Wildlife Trust of India ( WTI ), Senior Adviser to the President IFAW, were honoured by Chief Executive Member of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) Mr. Pramod Boro and Deputy Chief Executive Member Mr. Gobindo Basumatary. This milestone is especially significant as today also commemorates three years of the rule of this government.
Their collaborative efforts culminated in significant milestones, including the official notification of the First Addition to Manas National Park in 2016, covering 350 sq km and the Raimona National Park by the Government of Assam in June 2021, covering 422 sq km.
WTI—IFAW have been working in the Manas landscape for nearly two decades in collaboration with the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), Forest Department, and local communities to secure the rich natural heritage of Bodoland in Assam.
Their impactful efforts successfully restored the lost World Heritage Site status of Manas National Park through advocacy with UNESCO.
Over the years, the WTI—IFAW team has worked with the local communities to address human-elephant conflict, pioneering initiatives such as the community-managed hanging solar fences as an effective tool to manage conflict situations.
Mr. Azzedine Downes, President and CEO of IFAW, said, “ IFAW is proud to be working with the BTC, WTI and the Assam State Forest Department in the Greater Manas landscape for over twenty years, and we thank the BTC for this formal recognition of our combined efforts to bring this World Heritage Site back to its former glory.”
Mr. Vivek Menon, Founder and Executive Director, WTI said, “We extend our gratitude to the BTC for their unwavering support and guidance in continuing our various conservation programmes for securing the rich natural heritage of Bodoland. This is a great opportunity to share our vision for the next two decades to secure the rich natural heritage of Bodoland at the landscape level.”
Key achievements in the landscape include the successful reintroduction of the Greater One-horned rhinoceros in Manas in 2006, the translocation of Eastern Swamp deer from Kaziranga Nation Park to Manas and the ongoing rehabilitation of Asian Elephants since 2007.
They have also constituted 36 Eco Development Committees (EDC) and assisted more than 15,000 households across the landscape, providing law and enforcement support by training over 750 frontline forest staff since 2011, resulting in landmark convictions in Manas. Furthermore, their engagement with school children, parents, and teachers reached 45,000 participants through 85 events from 2011 to 2021, contributing to a holistic approach to conservation and education in the region.