All Creatures Great and Small

The wild areas of Bodoland include a vast variety of small creatures that deserve as much attention as their bigger counterparts
 Bengal Florican in Manas National Park. Photo Credit Manas Maozigendri Ecotourism Society
Bengal Florican in Manas National Park. Photo Credit Manas Maozigendri Ecotourism Society

While big animals like the rhino, elephant or tiger are well-known attractions at any safari, the forests and grasslands of Bodoland have something unique. The richly biodiverse region has many more wonders for instance, the Clouded leopard, the Wild Buffalo, the Assamese Macaque, the Golden Cat, the Fishing Cat, the Chinese Pangolin, quite a few civets, a few varieties of deer, mongoose etc. The area around Raimona National Park, Ultapani and Saralpara boasts about 150 species of butterflies. For ornithologists, there are 476 species of birds, of which 26 are globally threatened. The state has come forward in the support of conservation of forests and natural heritage, opening gates to a wide range of visitors from across the world to experience the rich biodiversity, nature and wildlife habitats of Bodoland.

Golden Langur

This biodiversity hotspot is special for many smaller endemic species that are found only in this region. Prime among them is the Golden Langur (Trachypithecus geei). This beautifully coloured rare monkey is found only in this tract of Western Assam and the foothills of the Black Mountains of Bhutan. Only an estimated population of about 8000 are left. One is likely to encounter troops of these black-faced, long-tailed fellows high up in the trees in the protected areas of Chakrasila and Bornadi, that have been earmarked to protect this endangered primate. 

Pygmy Hog 

Among the smaller fauna of Bodoland, there is a small pig that features in many headlines for its gradual return from the brink of extinction. The Pygmy Hog (Porcula salvinia) is the world&rsquos smallest and rarest wild pig, and belongs to a unique genus Porcula that has no close relative. The species was originally found in the narrow belt of tall alluvial grasslands along the southern edge of the Himalayas. By 1993 however, its habitat was reduced to only a few pockets of the Manas National Park. In 1995, the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme was set up to save the pygmy hog from extinction. The programme was helmed by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust along with the IUCN/SSC Wild Pig Specialist Group and involved multiple parties including the Assam Forest Department, the Government of India&rsquos Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change, as well as local partners, EcoSystems-India and Aaranyak for implementation. The programme seeks to breed and reintroduce pygmy hogs into its restored habitat in a carefully phased manner. Dr Parag Jyoti Deka, who runs the programme, says that so far 152 hogs have been released in sanctuaries including Bornadi and Manas National Park. 

Bengal Florican

The Bengal Florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis) is another species that finds refuge in the grasslands of Manas National Park, where some of the largest populations of this fascinating bird live. Listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN, this bustard is found in the Indian subcontinent apart from Vietnam and Cambodia. Unsurprisingly, the iconic Florican finds itself on the logo of a very significant organisation &ndash the Manas&nbspMaozigendri&nbspEcotourism Society (see box).

While tourists may not miss the megafauna when they visit these national parks, the likelihood of sighting the shy Pygmy Hog or the elusive Bengal Florican among the tall grasses in just one or two safaris is low. However when lovers of nature roam these forests with an open and receptive sensitivity, it becomes evident that there is much more going on beyond their field of vision, a wealth of life that is fascinating in every form and scale. 

Hispid Hare 

Another species that is only to be found here is the Hispid Hare (Caprolagus hispidus). Earlier, these leporids, native to South Asia, could be found along the southern foothills of the Himalayas, but their habitat is increasingly fragmented now, sporadic in patches across Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan. This mammal favours tall grasslands and is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It is also known as the Assam Rabbit and Bristly Rabbit. 

Assam Roofed Turtle 

Another critically endangered species that calls Assam and parts of eastern Bangladesh and Bhutan home is the Assam Roofed Turtle (Pangshura sylhetensis). With a triangular and elevated carapace, this odd-looking turtle typically inhabits terrestrial and freshwater habitats, fast-flowing streams and small rivers. With its population dwindling down to alarmingly low numbers, the Assam roofed turtle finds refuge in Manas National Park and other protected areas of Bodoland.

What you should keep in mind

  • While trekking, it is customary to wear dull clothing that blends with the surroundings. Greys, browns, dark greens or camouflage are best.
  • When out in the wild, please take care to speak in low tones.
  • When photographing fauna, be careful not to advance too close and disturb the animals.


With plenty of tourist activities and a few stay options, Manas Maozigendri Ecotourism Society (MMES) is an excellent way to experience Manas National Park. (Khamardwisa (Lwkhibazar), Baksa, Bodoland. To book contact their Tourism Manager 91 7896946621 see

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Traveller