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Royal Manas National Park (RMNP)

Date of Submission: 08/03/2012
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Bhutan National Commisson for UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Bhutan, Zhemgang, Pemagatshel and Sarpang districts & South Central part of Bhutan
Coordinates: N26 46 16.16 to 27 08 38.70 E90 35 03.61 91 13 28.51
Ref.: 5698
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Description

Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) is located in the eastern Himalayas and forms part of the ten global biodiversity "Hot Spot". The Park constitutes an integral part of the protected areas in Bhutan due to its strategic location. Towards the north it is bordered by Jigme SingyeWangchuk National Park and to the south it forms a trans-frontier reserve with Indian Manas Tiger Reserve, a world heritage site and connects Phipsoo Wildlife Sanctuary from west, Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary in the east and Thrumshingla National Park in the north-east through biological corridors. RMNP located in south central part of Bhutan and covers jurisdiction of three districts namely Pemagatshel, Zhemgang and Sarpang.

First and oldest National park, Royal Manas has been maintained as Game Sanctuary for many years prior to being notified as wildlife sanctuary in 1966. In 1993, Manas was upgraded to a national park with merging Namgyal Wangchuk Reserve connecting it to Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park. Covering an area of 1057 km2. RMNP forms a contiguous belt of very rich forest with Manas National Park in Assam. It is the largest and most representative of the tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems in the country that intercept with swathes of grassland and Wide River beds. It is only the areas where the wide range of habitats between the tropical and temperate can be protected in a single reserve. Thus park is home to great variety of wildlife including several species of endangered and global important such as Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), Pygmy hog (Sus Salvanius), Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus), Asiatic water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) etc.

Climatic conditions of the park vary in great deal in terms of rainfall and temperature. Monsoon rain being heaviest in the southern part of the park receive rainfall with record of almost 1200mm during the peak monsoon periods, whereas in the northern part of the park receive much less rain record less than 400mm. Thunderstorms are common during summer months and the river assume the forms of terrifying torrents. However, during winter rainfall is negligible and temperature may drop by almost 10 degree centigrade. 

Brief Synthesis

The RMNP, one of the oldest and richest protected areas in the country lies in south central part of Bhutan covering the part of Zhemgang, Pemagatshel and Sarpang districts (90035'03.61" E to 91013'28.51" E and 26046'16.16"N to 27008'38.70" N). The park with conservation history of more than 45 years was declared as National Park in 1993 and covers an area of 1057 km2 .

Rugged, mountainous terrain with moderately steep slopes characterized much of the park areas, which peak at 2707 m in the northern part of the park. From this highest point, rivers drain east into the Mande chu and west to the Taklai chu. There are more than 47 watersheds within the park. Along the southern belt, the east-west directed Siwalik Hills rise from about 500m to 1200m and are bisected by Manas river, largest river in Bhutan. The lowest altitude recorded is as low as 80 m asl in the flood plain of Manas river. The altitudinal variation affords diversity of plants, mammals and birds in the park.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

1. 8 different cat species present within the same protected area which is very rare in the world
2. Recorded highest tiger density in the world as per recent tiger survey conducted (1 tiger per 25sq.km)
3. Royal Manas National Park is not only a pride for it rich biodiversity but also offers spectacular landscape, eye catching lush valley and rivers, immense scenic beauty , unique culture and lifestyle.

Criterion (vii):

Royal Manas National Park is not only a pride for it rich biodiversity but also offers spectacular landscape, eye catching lush valley and rivers, immense scenic beauty , unique culture and lifestyle. Located in the south central part of Bhutan, southern park boundary is continuous to Manas National park, India. About 90% o f the park area is under forest cover including vast areas of tropical monsoon forest interspersed with swaths of savannah grasslands and wide rverbeds. River Drangmechu draining from the eastern Bhutan and Mangdichu emerging from the central Bhutan meet at Panbang to form Manas river, a largest river in the country to which park derived it name. The life giving Manas river to numerous downstream animal, birds, plants and human being and also the scenic splendor that bisect the park into east and west.

Criterion (ix):

The geophysical aspects of the park composed of limestone and dolomite in the higher ridges of the Siwaliks Hills and but the southern facies are largely loose shale, which is unstable, fast draining and marked by numerous landslips. The southern flood pain of the park consists of alluvial deposits of Manas/Brahmaputra River with shallow soil lying over mixed layers of gravel and boulder that are flooded yearly forming wide river beds that support numerous wildlife. Higher areas above the flood level are comprised of brown or sandy-loam soils which are fast dying areas supporting deciduous forests and extensive grasslands. Numerous natural salt licks and water holes occur on the exposed river/stream sides along the foothills belt of the park creating special habitats that attract variety of wildlife.
 
Criterion (x):

Habitats and Biodiversity Richness:
RMNP is very unique and richest in biodiversity having a varied ecosystem types, from grasslands and wetland to tropical deciduous forests in the south to temperate forest ecosystem in the north. So this park is the only area where the spectrum of habitats between the tropical and temperate can be protected in a single reserve which harbors numerous wildlife species. RMNP has an extensive area of tropical and sub-tropical monsoon forest interspersed with swathes of natural grassland and wide riverbeds along the southern border, thus representing the largest protected area contributing to conservation of tropical and sub-tropical ecosystem in Bhutan.

Major Habitats:

Savannah grassland < 500 m; 
Tropical monsoon forest < 500m; 
Subtropical broadleaf forests 500-1000m;
Warm broad leaved forest 1000-2000 m;
Cool broadleaved forest 2000-2500 m; and 
Upper hill Oak forest >2500 m. 

Fauna:

The fauna of RMNP consists of primarily of Indo-Malayan species and few of Pale arctic elements. Park has very high overall species-richness primarily because of its location at the ecotone of two Zoogeographic realms and the wide range of habitats found in the park.

Mammals:

59 mammal species recorded from the park (Rai, DS 2006) including recent new record. 13 species are placed under totally protected mammals. Parks has one critically endangered mammal species, six endangered species, eleven vulnerable species and two near threatened species as per the latest IUCN Red List.
Major prey animal found in the RMNP are Sambar (Cervus unicolor), Gaur (Bos gaurus), Asaitic water buffalo (Bubalus arnee), Wild pig (Sus scrofa), Hamalayan Cresless Procupine (Hystrix brachyuran), Serow (Capricornis sumateriensis), Goral (Naemorhedous goral) Barking deer (Muntiasus muntjak), Golden Langur (Trachyphithecus geeii), Capped langur (Trachypitherus pileatus) and Macaques.

Carnivores species of RMNP are Tiger (Panthera tigris), Common Leopard (Panthera pardus), Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata), Golden Cat (Catapuma temmincki), Jungle Cat (Felis chaus), Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bangalensis), Himalayan Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus), Large Indian Civet (Viverra zibetha), Small Indian Civet (Viverra indica), Common Palm Civet(Paradoxurus hermaphrodites), Himalayan Palm Civet (Paguma larvata), Binturung (Arctictis binturong), Crab Eating Mongoose (Herpestes urva), Yellow-throated Marten (Martes flavigula), Ferret Badger and otter species.

RMNP is also home to many other important mammal species like elephant (Elephas maximus), Indian One-horned Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis), Wild dog (Coun alpines), Pigmy hog (Sus salvanius), Asaitic Bush-tailed Porcupine (Atherurus macrourus) with new record for Bhutan. RMNP is also a paradise for bird life with record of more than 430 species.

Birds:

Royal Manas National Park is known as birdlife paradise in Bhutan or in whole of the Asia (MacKinnon). 427species are recorded during the survey in 2006; and recently 3 more species are sighted and added to the list making the total of 430 species. Still more species are expected to occur. The park has two totally protected bird species listed in Schedule I of the Forest and Nature Conservation Act, 1995 and 12 species of IUCN listed birds includes two critically endangered species, five vulnerable species and five near-threatened species , six restricted range species. Recently two more new species are recorded for Bhutan from the park area such as Malayan Night Heron and Black Baza.

 Amphibians & Fishes:

No detailed survey done so far.
Presence of significant number of species including vulnerable, rare and endangered species.

Insects:

Presence tens of thousands of insects. 

Plants:

More than 900 species of vascular plants (Wikramanayake & Wangchuk 1993, Rawat 1994);
348 species of trees;
206 species of shrubs;
90 of climbers and twiners;
192 species of herbs:
Orchids. No detail survey done.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The park is well managed with a scientific conservation management plan in place which mainly aims to balance the biodiversity conservation of the park management with the development aspirations and needs of the communities.

Comparison with other similar properties

The park may be similar with other natural sites, however the reasons that make the property stand out is the same as outlined under the OUV part.