In early 2007 I had the pleasure of going to the North Indian state of Assam. My primary focus was to get some decent shots of the Greater one horned Rhino in the Kaziranga National Park and I was advised to include a visit to a smaller park called Manas.
Manas National Park
This little gem of a park which sits at the foot of the Bhutan Himalayas was my first stop and although I had read about the troubles in the 80’s and 90’s I saw no visible evidence of any unrest or malice. However, the devastation of years of poaching had left its hideous scar and it is only in the last ten years that the park is said to be making a comeback.
Rhino had been wiped out here during the Bodo insurgency and at the time of my visit the park authorities had a male and a female living in an outdoor enclosure with the hope of eventual release. I think its going to take a few years before they feel confident to let this species reclaim what was its natural territory.
Even with the history of poaching, I still had wonderful encounters with good populations of Indian elephant and Asian Water buffalo to keep me busy. The biggest thrill was my first elephant ride; standing on the raised platform in the early morning mist and watching these silent grey ghosts swaying down the paths towards me was a magical Rudyard Kipling moment indeed. Sitting on the back of a big female elephant is a wondrous experience as you head into the park and silently move amongst the animals and myriad of bird species. 2 hours later after straddling what felt like a house, we returned smiling with numb backsides.
The accommodation was simple, clean and with a steady electrical current. Digital photography may have alleviated the need to lug hundreds of rolls of film around the planet with you, but now you need to carry cables and chargers and spend your time fretting about where the next power source is.
I had a really rewarding time in this quiet park and as the wildlife recovers and the tourists flood back in it will definitely guarantee the tranquil place for future generations
Species captured: Indian elephant, Asian Water buffalo, Captive one horn Rhino, Gaur, Swamp deer, Hog deer. Variety of bird species.
Special Thanks to the folks at Wildlifetrails