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Keibul Lamjao joins heritage tag race
Published on 16 Jan. 2010 12:11 AM IST
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After Majuli in Assam, the Keibul Lamjao National Park in Manipur is set to join the race for world heritage site status. The Manipur forest department has moved the Centre to get the only floating wildlife sanctuary in the world that is home to the endangered sangai in the most coveted list. “We submitted the proposal to the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage during a seminar held in Guwahati in October last year. The trust is examining the proposal and we are expecting that it will make the recommendation to Unesco for granting the world heritage status to our park,” the principal chief conservator of forests, S. Singshit, said. “Chances of the park getting the status are very high,” he added. However, the journey to get it listed as a world heritage site would be a long-drawn one and testing. Keibul Lamjao, which floats on Loktak lake in Bishnupur district, was declared a national park in 1977. It is the last remaining home of the Manipur brow-antlered deer (Cervus eldi eldi), locally known as sangai. It is unique to Manipur and is classified as critically endangered. The last census carried out in 2003 by forest department officials recorded a sangai population of 180. The Wildlife Institute of India began the next census in 2006 but could not complete it because of the law and order situation. “Officials of the wildlife institute and the state forest department tried to continue the second phase of the census last year but could not because of an army operation in Loktak lake and the Keibul Lamjao park,” Singshit said. Police and security forces conduct flushout operations regularly at Loktak, as various militant groups take shelter here. Singshit said the census would begin soon as the situation was improving. The survey would be carried out by officials of the wildlife institute, the state forest department, experts of Manipur University and NGOs. Apart from sangai, the park is home to hog deer, common otter, Indian civet cat, viper, cobra, python, turtles and wild boar. Moreover, it is home to migratory birds like common teal, coot, pintail duck, pochard, lesser whistling teal and cormorants. Park officials have seized 234 traps laid for birds and animals inside the Keibul Lamjao park during anti-poaching operations since August last year. They also nabbed two poachers, Heisnam Bira, 46, and Laishram Kripa, 40. The duo were, however, let off after being fined Rs 6,000 and Rs 2,000 respectively. The river island of Majuli and Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh are among the 27 sites in India that are on the Unesco’s tentative list for nomination as world heritage sites. Of these, 19 are cultural sites. Union minister for human resource development Kapil Sibal advocated the case of Majuli, an island on the Brahmaputra, to be declared a World Heritage Site during his meeting with Unesco director-general Irina Bokova in New Delhi on Monday. He underlined the need to preserve the unique character of the island.

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