There are the big and popular stars of the Indian wild, like the tiger and one-horned rhinoceros, and then there are rare and endemic ones like the pygmy hog, clouded leopard and golden langur, to name a few. Assam, one of the eight northeastern states of India, with its dense forest, is a wildlife wonderland one needs to go explore. The state has many wildlife parks, some popular, some not so much. Nevertheless, the unique thing about Assam’s wildlife is that, be it the very popular Kaziranga National Park or lesser-known Orang National Park, none will fall short of what you expect. From well-managed parks to rare wildlife treasures, these parks have a lot to offer. Here are top five national parks in Assam for an unforgettable wildlife experience.
Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park, located in Assam’s Golaghat and Nagaon districts, is home to two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceros population which also gave the park the status of a World Heritage Site. Among all protected areas, Kaziranga also has the highest density of tigers; good number of swamp deer (barasingha), wild water buffalo and wild elephants breed here; the park is also recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International–all these and more makes Kaziranga National Park one of the best wildlife parks in India.
Manas National Park
Wildlife enthusiasts, don’t give this park a miss. Home to the largest population (in the world) of the endangered Bengal Florican, and also the rare and endangered hispid hare, pygmy hog, golden langur and Assam roofed turtle, the park has made quite a name for itself. Apart from these species, the park has a healthy population of wild elephants, one-horned rhinoceros, swamp deer, Bengal tiger, wild water buffaloes, clouded leopard, to name a few. Manas’ river system and dense forest cover make for a suitable home to 450 species of birds, thus also making the park one great birding destination to look out for. Go to Manas to see great hornbill, pied hornbill, brahminy duck, khalij pheasant, pelicans, among others.
Nameri National Park
Also a tiger reserve, Nameri National Park is located in the Sonitpur district in Assam. The park has a very large population of wild elephants along with tiger, leopard, pygmy hog, clouded leopard, sloth bear and Himalayan black bear, to name a few. Nameri is perfect for birding enthusiasts as it also plays host to 300 species of birds–migratory and well as resident. Birds like ibisbill, rufous necked hornbill, black stork, white-winged wood duck make Nameri their home. The semi evergreen and moist deciduous forest is excellent but also have fallen prey to logging. The park, as beautiful as it is, has a great threat of poaching and human/animal conflict due to elephants.
Orang National Park
A natural replica of Kaziranga National Park, Orang National Park is located in Assam’s Darrang and Sonitpur districts. Because of the similarities in the landscape, Orang National Park also play host to the great one-horned rhinoceros, critically endangered pygmy hog and wild elephants. The park is the only one-horned rhinoceros habitat in the north bank of Brahmaputra river. Gangetic dolphin, Indian pangolin, hog deer, royal Bengal tiger and several special of reptiles thrive in this park. Nearest town is Tezpur (32km).
Dibru-Saikhowa National Park
Located in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park is also a designated Biosphere Reserve. Flanked by Brahmaputra and Lohit rivers in the north and Dibru river in the south, the park is an excellent mix of moist mixed semi-evergreen forest, moist mixed deciduous forests, grasslands and swamp forest. Animals like Bengal tiger, slow loris, sloth bear, clouded leopard, Malayan giant squirrel, Gangetic dolphin, Hoolock gibbon and feral horse among many, are the park’s residents. Dibru-Saikhowa National Park also has interesting species of reptiles–snakes, turtles and monitor lizard. It is also a birder’s paradise as some of the birds recorded are Bengal florican, greater adjutant, lesser adjutant, fulvous whistling duck, northern pintail, spot-billed pelican, Baer’s pochard to name a few.