Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary, Jorhat, Assam

For the sake of humor or serious matters, primates are one of the favorite topics that closely associate with human beings or Homosapiens. Right from the Darwin’s theory of evolution primate species have always been subject scientific experiments as many of their properties closely relates to human nature. In the entertainment field apes or other species of primates are hilariously portrayed. The preservation of certain rare primate species are looked on with serious consideration to protect them from extinction. The Government of Assam had taken various laudable measures to preserve the environment particularly for the protection of several species that faces extinction. Many wild sanctuaries set up under the Government of Assam have rich species of wild life including rare species that are categorised as species on the verge of extinction.

 The Hoollongapar Gibbon sanctuary is located in the Jorhat District in Assam, that is the only wild life sanctuary in India that exclusively maintain the wild Gibbons or the rare primate variety found in India in natural habitat.

The wild life sanctuary during the British reign was a region of Hoollongapar forest located in the foothills of the Patkai mountain range. The upper portion of the area is densely covered with Hoollong trees, middle area with nahar or Mesua ferrea and the lower region with lush shrubs, herbs and other rare medicinal plants. In early 1881 itself the area was declared as a reserve forest by the British. During 1920s the Tea plantations in Assam almost refaced the structure of the forest as it was begun to be surrounded by the newly emerged tea gardens. Though it is covered by tea gardens during 1880s and 1920’s even in 1881 it was named as Hoollongapar forest due to the presence of indigenous Hoollongapar tree species. It is the largest forest track that connects Assam to Nagaland that is spread in major five parts. In 30th July 1997 as per the government notification of 37/97/ 31 the area was known as Gibbon Wild Life Sanctuary as this region was famous for the natural habitat having highest dense population of Hoolock Gibbon’s species. On 25/5/2004 under the notification number FRP 37/97/20 the sanctuary was renamed as“Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary”. Currently the sanctuary extends to  Dissoi Valley Reserve Forest, Dissoi Reserve Forest, and Tiru Hill Reserve Forest. The total extent of the sanctuary is 2,098.62 ha or 8.1sq mi. The sanctuary is categorized as alluvial semi- evergreen forests in Assam that has major evergreen forest areas. The Bhogdoi river and rainfall reception about 249cm makes this region fertile and suitable environment for several animal and plant species.

 The exceptional fauna is the remarkable feature that attracts tourist in this region. The biodiversity is vast that includes rare category of western Hoolock Gibbon, the ape species and the Bengal slow loris primate or nocturnal primate found only in the north eastern part of India. Apart from these varieties other primate categories found here are stump tailed macaques, rhesus macaque and capped langur. Other than the primates it is rich in elephant population, tigers, leopards, jungle cats, wild boars, civets, different types of squirrels and more than 219 species of birds.

The distinct feature of the flora is its spread as canopy layers that add the natural beauty of the sanctuary. Amari, sopas, udal, bhela are the variety of flora that has straight trunks unlike other deciduous trees, shrub and herbs. Different species of bamboos constitutes the richness of the evergreen ground canopy layer. Dolu bamboo, Bojal bamboo, jengu, Houka beit, sorat and tora are the other plant species that contributes the richness to the evergreen flora in this region.

Though Assamese Government has taken various measures to conserve the sanctuary the migration and settlement of people from near by villages from 1960’s onwards due to the emergence of tea gardens around the sanctuary still possess threat to the natural habitat in the form of encroachment and poaching in this protected area that is major backdrop that mars the beauty of this region and natural habitat.