1.         Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (India) (N 338)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1985

Criteria  (vii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1992-present

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/338/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1997-1997)
Total amount approved: USD 165,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/338/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

January 1997: World Heritage Centre mission;  February 2002: field visit by World Heritage Centre and IUCN

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/338/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2002

The field visit to Manas Wildlife Sanctuary was organized during an IUCN mission to Assam from 5 to 16 February 2002, organized with the cooperation of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), the UNESCO Office in New Delhi, and the World Heritage Centre. The principal findings of the mission with regard to the state of conservation of Manas are:

(a)  The insecurity situation has provided an “enabling environment” for several negative elements to misuse the resources of the site. There appears to be considerable levels of organized poaching of wildlife, illegal felling of trees, encroachment and canalization of facilities within the site.  There is a noticeable sense of uncertainty and hesitation amongst site staff;

(b)  Of the three Ranges established to allocate management and protection activities, only the Bansbari Range (i.e. the central area of the site) can be described as being reasonably functional. Insurgency is precluding the resumption of protection activities in the Eastern and Western Ranges where reports allege widespread poaching and illegal harvesting of trees and non timber forest products (NTFPs), including medicinal plants;

(c)  Site management is finding it difficult to actively address protected area related issues. For example, there is no approved management plan. Lack of reliable data makes it difficult to formulate appropriate management strategies and/or sustainable development activities. However, a draft Management Plan is nearing completion;

(d)  The operating budget, infrastructure, equipment and the present management structure are inadequate. There is insufficient staff with experience and training in routine aspects of protected area management;.

(e)  Limited and/or poorly maintained infrastructure (i.e. roads, communications etc) and basic public services in the towns and villages around the site (for example, limited tourism, transportation and marketing infrastructure) reduces the options for developing and implementing conservation-linked rural, sustainable economic development projects; and

(f)  Poverty and population pressures make the development and implementation of community-based economic/poverty alleviation alternatives a challenging task, which are probably beyond the experience, capacity and resources of present staff.


Community eco-development programmes appear to be focusing on providing infrastructure and are only weakly linked to engendering support for the Site’s primary nature conservation objectives. They do not adequately contribute to resolving many of the problems facing the management of the site. Unpredictable levels of financial and technical resources limit the ability of the Director and staff to implement management and development programmes in a phased and orderly way. The Site requires a comprehensive and integrated conservation and interpretation strategy. This needs to be linked to a transparent and consultative management planning process and directed towards a wide range of stakeholders, including: local communities, schools, visitors, protection and site staff, as well as local government and other organizations that are active within and around the site.

The Director and staff report that only a very small population of the Asian One-horned rhinoceros is still present in the site. Researchers met by the mission suggest numbers could be below ten individuals. As both the Eastern and Western Ranges are effectively “no go” areas for visitors, and the presence of protection staff is limited to a few locations, it was difficult to accurately assess the impacts of the measures designed to minimize poaching threats to the rhinos. It is certain however that the status of the rhino population in and around Manas is seriously threatened.

With respect to the progress achieved in implementation of the rehabilitation plan adopted in 1997 and the sustainability of the rehabilitation efforts, the mission reported that all of the US$165,000 allocated by UNESCO as emergency assistance has been used on approved projects and equipment procurement. These activities are helping, albeit slowly, to re-establish staff presence for on-site management actions in Manas. The two fibre-glass outboard powered boats purchased as part of the second instalment appear unsuitable for the work they were expected to undertake.

A trust account has been established by the Assam Forest Department, which has the potential to cover ongoing enforcement and management costs at both Manas (and Kaziranga) World Heritage sites. The site Director has developed a list of priority projects; if funding could be made be available, these projects could significantly help contribute to establishing effective management in most areas other than those threatened by insurgency and militant activities.

An effective working relationship between Manas Wildlife Sanctuary and Royal Manas National Park (Bhutan) exists and the mission had an opportunity to hold informal discussions with a staff member from Royal Manas National Park. One staff member from the Royal Manas National Park indicated that the current climate is unfavourable for progression towards a transboundary World Heritage proposal. The present scale of poaching and insurgency on both sides of the international border is of serious concern to the Bhutan authorities and the Royal Forest Department of Bhutan has closed the local school and other community facilities, relocated families from the Park base and is anticipating, in the near future, replacing the staff of the Department of Forests  and the National Park staff with an army unit.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 26 COM 21A.11

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Expresses its appreciation to the Government of India and the State Government of Karnataka for establishing a "Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority" to ensure effective co-ordination of conservation and development activities within the Hampi World Heritage areas;

2. Encourages the State Party and the authorities concerned to continue their efforts in the formulation of a comprehensive management plan and to this end requests the World Heritage Centre to continue co-operating with the concerned authorities; 

3. Invites the State Party to submit a technical co-operation request to mobilize national and international resources and expertise to finalize this comprehensive management plan;

4. Requests the State Party to report by 1 February 2003 on the progress made in removing the threats facing the site through corrective measures and the state of conservation of the site, for examination at its 27th session in June/July 2003;

5. Decides to retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 26 COM 21A.4

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Notes with concern the continuing threats posed by insurgency and its impacts on the state of conservation of the site, particularly in its Eastern and the Western Ranges but also acknowledges several favourable conservation trends including: finalization of the management plan that is awaiting State Government approval, progressive reconstruction of camps and guard posts and increasing staff ability to carry out on-site management actions;

2. Invites the Government of India and the State Government of Assam to investigate the possibilities of including the state of conservation of Manas as an agenda item in on-going discussions and dialogues with the militant and rebel leaders, and as part of appropriate bilateral talks between India and Bhutan;

3. Notes with satisfaction that the cordial working relations between staff of the Manas World Heritage area and their counterparts in the Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan are helpful in the conservation of the site;

4. Notes with satisfaction that the Government has included Manas as part of the Project Elephant and is facilitating the work of economic development committees to improve participatory planning and rural development projects;

5. Invites the Centre and IUCN to co-operate with the State Party to find ways and means of financing a number of projects prepared by the site Director and the feasibility of using the trust fund established by the State Government of Assam as a financing mechanism for attracting resources from international and national donors;

6. Invites the State Party to consider inviting another UNESCO/IUCN mission, within the next four years, to review progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the IUCN mission undertaken in February 2002;

7. Decides to retain the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.