The Barak Riverine Ecosystem Study

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A preliminary account

By Dr. R.K. Ranjan Singh

The Barak Riverine Ecosystem Study is sponsored by the International River Network. The main objective of the study is to document flora and fauna of the terrestrial and aquatic regime of the Barak Basin. Base on the result of the documentation a comprehensive check list of the flora and fauna of the Basin will be prepared. The study has been launched with effect from 3rd July 2012, by a 14 member’s team headed by Dr. R.K. Ranjan Singh who is currently the Director, College Development Council, Manipur University. The first phase of the field study confined to the area of in between Oinamlong to New Keiphundai parts of the Makru River Zone and Dholakhal Punji of Downstream Barak. The team encountered with many interesting amphibian species like Red-eyed frog (Leptobrachium) , many species of reptiles and fish fauna habitation. In the Dolakhal Punji village we encountered some of the most interesting part of our study. We came across the Hmar tribes who reside in the Dolkhal Punji village. Most interestingly we found that they are not regular hunters. They are more of opportunistic tribes when it comes to the fauna of that area. We discussed extensively with the chief and the other forest dwelling people and came to know that they have been sighting tigers in the Munlaian forest area of the lower Barak. One year back some unidentified hunters and trappers killed an adult Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris), also they reported of Leopard (Panthera purdus) sightings. There have been reports of a potter being attacked by a tiger and also an Assam Rifles Jawan was attacked at the same location few weeks later. The reptile fauna of that area is very rich. In our short trip we came across many species in Dolakhal Punji village and its fringe forest area. We came across many frog species, snakes, water monitor lizards, calotes species, skinks, geckos, Sambar deer, Barking deer, wild boar, other small mammals etc. The concern has to be on the community based education and conservation initiative of the state. The Dolakhal
Punji village is actually a very strategic sight to set up a Reptile Research & Conservation Station of the Northeast India. The only factor which is making the things worse in this superbly rich biodiversity state of the northeast is the Climate Change. One big example of it is this year 26th June’s devastating flash flood in the Jiri River which washed away 32 houses and rendered 102 families homeless. While documenting the devastation of the flash flood we came across an old lady aging 104 years. She stated that the Jiri River was lined with thick forest and wild elephants and tigers were commonly sighted in the past. Along with this the rate of deforestation and logging should also be on accounts of the fast declining floral and faunal diversity of the Barak Basin.

List of the team members:
1. Dr. R.K. Ranjan Singh Team leader
2. R.K. Birjit Singh
3. Vishal Santra
4. Chirag Jyoti Roy
5. Rahul Ashem
6. Kh. Brajesh
7. L. Gopen

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