The historic oil city of Digboi in Tinsukia district of Upper Assam would soon have a region’s largest and first of its kind forest museum-cum-nature’s interpretation centre at Digboi Panbari under Digboi Forest Division under Upper Dehing Reserve Forest East Block, informed Ranjan Kumar Das, Conservator of Forest, Eastern Assam Circle.
Briefing about the project, forest official Das said that the foundation stone of the Signature Project of Assam’s Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal would be laid on June 5 on the occasion of the World Environment Day.
“Chief Minister Sonowal, who would arrive at Digboi on June 4 evening would also participate in a series of programmes including plantation of saplings at Digboi’s Bogapani-based Arboretum, laying of stone foundation of Tingrai Makum Ali rural road, release of ‘Khatiyan’- a sketch of developmental works of 123 Digboi Legislative Assembly Constituency at Tingrai Bornamghar,” BJP ML Suren Phukan informed this correspondent.
The CM, who would be accomplished by BJP MLA Phukan, will also address a public meeting at Tingrai auditorium. Phukan added, “The CM would also sit with the AOD (Assam Oil Division) officials and discuss at length on various issues centering round refinery activities besides visiting the various production sites and plants of the Corporation.”
Meanwhile, lauding project on museum and interpretation centre in Digboi, the Das said that Digboi being the right location sharing a common bio-diversity with the rare rain-forest Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary near Joypore in Dibrugarh situated in the foot hill of Himalayan range of Arunachal Pradesh would serve the purpose of conservation, research and learning besides promoting tourism in the area and creating avenues of employment opportunities.
“We are certain that it would have immense influence and would serve a place for information for people, visitors, sightseers, enthusiasts. We anticipate that the centre will speak for the ones without a voice, to showcase the important of wildlife and instigate many not leave it to perish, but save it to cherish,” Das added.
It is pertinent to add that the Dehing-Patkai, which was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 2004, includes parts of Upper Dehing West reserve forest, Dirok rain-forest and part of Jeypore with a total size of around 110 sq km.
The wildlife sanctuary is a part of the Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve having the World War II cemeteries near it along with the Stillwell Road and the oldest refinery of Asia in Digboi and ‘open cast’ coal mining at Ledo.
Researches and census by wildlife enthusiasts also revealed that that there are seven wild cat species found in the rain-forest including Tiger, Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Leopard Cat, Golden Cat, Jungle Cat and Marbled Cat.
It is the only forest in the world having seven different species of wild cat – the fact enough to prove the significance and importance of Dehing-Patkai Sanctuary which can rightfully be called as the hub of ‘wild-cat heaven’.
Top forest officials added that the footprints and other available clues and samples were collected from across the belt and have been sent for forensic investigation at Hyderabad.
Moreover, out of fifteen species of non-human primates found in India, seven inhabit in this rainforest. These are Rhesus macaque, Assamese macaque, Slow loris, Capped langur, pigtailed macaque, Stumptailed macaque and Hoolock gibbon. All but Assamese Macaque have been declared as endangered in the Red Data Book of the Zoological Survey of India and also in IUCN red list. Other rare mammal includes Chinese pangolin, Flying fox, Wild pig, Sambar, Barking deer, Gaur, Serow, Malayan giant squirrels, Porcupine, etc.
The Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary which is also identified as an Elephant reserve by Indian Government, has also been the home to some of the beautiful and rare species of birds including Lesser Adjutant Stork, White Winged Wood duck, White-backed Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture, White cheeked Hill Partridge, Khaleej Pheasant, Grey Peacock-Pheasant, Rufus necked Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Great Pied Hornbill, Beautiful Nuthatch, Black-browed Leaf Wabler, Green Imperial Pigeon, Purple wood or Pale capped Pigeon etc. Some of the reptile species of the sanctuary are Rock python, King cobra, Asian leaf turtle, Monitor Lizard, etc.
Many exotic species of orchids are found in the region. There is an abundance of epiphytes, wild banana, orchids, arums, climbers and linas in this humid forest habitat. Some of the importance tree species found in this forest area is Hollang, Mekai, Dhuna, Udiyam, Nahar, Samkothal, Bheer, etc.
The biodiversity in the available forest record says about 46 species of mammals, 283 species of birds, 276 species of butterflies, 70 species of fish, 71 species of reptiles, 70 species of dragon flies are found here.