Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary: The Amazon of the East
DIGBOI, Oct 21 – Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts of Assam and covers an area of 111.19 sq km (42.93 sq mi) rainforest. It is a part of Assam valley’s tropical wet evergreen forest and consists of three parts – Jeypore, upper Dehing river and Dirok rainforest. It was declared a sanctuary on June 13, 2004. This sanctuary is also a part of Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve. The rainforest stretches for more than 575 sq km (222 sq mi) in the districts of Dibrugarh, Tinsukia and Sivasagar. A part of the forest was declared as a wildlife sanctuary by the Government of Assam while another part falls under the Dibru Deomali Elephant Reserve. The forest further spreads over to the Tirap and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh. The Dehing Patkai forms the largest stretch of tropical lowland rainforests in India. The forest is often referred to as ‘The Amazon of the East’ owing to its large area and thick forests. The sanctuary may soon be declared a national park.
To promote the place and the region to international standards, Taiphakey Eco-tourism, a non-governmental organization was constituted in 2010 to promote eco-tourism in this eastern-most part of India. Its headquarter is at Tipam Phakey, an ethnic village consisting mainly of the Fakial community people, 2 km away from Joypore town in Dibrugarh district, adjacent to the historical place of Tipam and the Dehing Patkai Rainforest. It also aimed at creating avenues to engage the local youths in nature based activities both for conservation and livelihood. As such, the Tai Phakey Eco-tourism Camp has an eco-camp at Tipam Phakey village with traditional food and lodging facilities with a scenic picnic spot near Burhidihing river and swimming facilities at the river. An insight into ethnic Tai-Phakey culture and living styles of the people, trekking, bird watching, library and more fun-fare avenues are available to explore.
Ranjan Kumar Das, the Conservator of Assam Forest Department of the Eastern Circle who initiated several steps earlier during his tenure as the DFO Digboi to promote the place and people of the beautiful landscape informed that on June 13, 2004, the Government of Assam declared an area of 111.19 sq km forest area as the ‘Dehing Patkai Sanctuary’ which is classified as the ‘Assam Valley Tropical Wet Evergreen Forests’ and house innumerable life forms, many of which are not found anywhere in the world.
Das beside throwing ample light on the bio-diversity aspects of the sanctuary said that some of the rare features that best describe the sanctuary may be summed up thus, “The place is home to more than 550 hoolock gibbons, has 204 wild elephants, is the abode of the Critically Endangered White Winged Wood Duck, the State Bird of Assam. It has the Royal Bengal Tiger, a large number of leopards and lesser cats of around nine species. It is also home to at least 350 different species of butterflies, 650 species of moths and 350 species of birds. It also houses innumerable rare orchids, ferns, climbers, medicinal and aromatic plants. It also has 47 different species of mammals, highest for any protected area of the country, reptiles (snakes-47 species, 16 species of lizards, tortoise and turtles of 15 species). The belt also has amphibians of 24 species, beetles of more than 200 species and more than 500 species of spiders. Amidst the orchids with more than 101 species, the critically endangered tree– Vatica lanceaefolia (Mor Sal) is also found here.
Adventurous tours and family picnics are conducted at the bank of Dihing river, Dillighat and Sitakunda and educational tours are conducted to ethnic tribal villages like Namphakey village, Nocte Gaon, Ahom villages, Tea-community villages and Nepali villages 2-3 km away.
There are also ethnic pilgrimage and historical place tours to the capital of first Ahom king Chaolung Sukapha, Deohalee Pahar, Dighalighat, Nagaghat and Sitakunda. There are many other sightseeing spots nearby.