AGARTALA: With the increasing incidences of man–monkey conflicts over the year in different parts of the state, the Tripura government has mooted the intension to set up a Primate National Park in southern part of the state with an exclusive enclosure for monkeys.
According to report, the state forest department has already conduct the feasibility study for the proposed site spreading over about 500 hectares stretch, along Indo-Bangladesh border to facilitate cross border movements of the animal and a project of Rs 71 crore was submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).
The department has pleaded for the proposal to control the movement of the primate species inside human inhabitations mostly in Atharamura and Baramura foothills over past few years and several efforts to contain the conflict between man and monkey went in vain.
The wildlife officials has now devised special costumes for employees, who would go near the monkeys in their natural habitat and offer foods, creating a symbiotic understanding between them to stop their movement in human habitation.
There are six species of monkeys found in Tripura – Rhesus, Pigtailed, Capped Langur, Spectacle Langur, Slow Lories and Hoolock Gibon.
Monkeys are been considered as holy animal since time immemorial and their presence in Tripura is not new, rather one of the oldest primate species available in the forest, wildlife officials said.
Leaving aside the wild food, they started eating foods like packet edibles, rice, meat-fish and other food waste of human population.
Basically, rhesus monkey is fogivorus – like to have flowers, fruits, leafs, roots and shoots but with the habitation change of the species, they became omnivorous and as a result, the amount of protein among the monkeys have increased substantially that augmented their breeding capacity almost double, which was considered as the biggest menace of monkeys in Tripura, said forest minister Jitendra Choudhury.
Human activities in forest areas in general and in particular as well as economic activities in the forestland have led to loss of monkey habitats in Tripura, complained NGO activists here adding that Tripura was the only state in the country, which allowed people to live in the reserve forest and use the forest produces.
Along with population growth and deforestation, the government sponsored forestry generation activities in degraded forest areas are believe to be responsible of habitat loss of monkeys in Tripura. Forest based activities like Jhum cultivation, firewood collection, collection of horticultural produces and generation of high-timber trees have adversely affected the composite natural forestry in Tripura, they argued.
In 1991 Tripura has started a participatory forestry activity in the name of Joint Forest Management (JFM) in the degraded forest land under the occupation of the forest department and so far about 1055 Sqkm areas have come under about 400 JFM for livelihood management of about 33000 people.
The record estimate that the population of Rhesus monkey in Tripura was about 5000 in seven locations of the state though they did not carry out any survey.
There reported conflict between man and monkey in Tripura from September 2007 to January 2009 is 44 spreading various parts of the state, which forced the forest authority to issue public notification to manage the menace.
As per the record in hospitals in Teliamura, Khowai, Kailashahar and Shantirbazar, as many as 76 people, including 14 children, injured in the monkey attacks and huge amount of horticultural produces was damaged in the particular locations while the villagers killed 11 monkeys by using poison and arms in the areas during the period.
The proposed Feni Primate National Park would be housing monkeys poking their nose in human inhabitation along with endangered species of spectacled monkey, wild boar, different deer families and birds.
The Forest Department was reported to have already begun plantation of vegetation suitable for the food habit of these species and added that nuts, underground vegetables-roots, fruit plantations are supposed to be put in addition to the natural vegetation while special wildlife-friendly drinking water arrangements would be made.
The Tripura government has intended to declare the status of two national park–Sepahijala and Trishna and four wildlife sanctuaries in different parts of the state, but the final notifications were not issued yet by MoEF because public hearings was not yet completed. (UNI)