G. L Khajuria
Very few cities are so fortunate as to have natural forests just literally at a stone’s throw from the city center. Jammu city is one such fortunate to have an undulating sub-tropical forest named Manda. Kissing the National Highway, the sanctuary is a naturalist’s delight.
Ever driven out to the wildlife sanctuary of Manda in the close proximity of the City of Temples Jammu, one feels much akin to nature and its natural beings. At one point of time, not in the so remote past, a leopard was seen in wondrous nature, en route, Manda near Kar Nallah, which drains into the river Tawi.
With ever-exploding population, man’s needs are ever increasing not just for his needs but more beyond greeds which are yielding a remorseful scenario. And strange enough, this piece of ‘green gold’ as we glimpse it today is well under the nose of every Jammuite, least to talk of those who are at the helm of affairs, the Wildlife Department and the Government at large. Though the department of wildlife is making all out efforts for the preservation and conservation of the green gold vis-à-vis the fauna which subsist therein, yet lot of funding is the dire demand of the day in boosting the entire scenario in its entirety. Besides, you have to imbibe that zest and zeal to bring up the historic piece of green gold conglomerated with a variety of kaleidoscopic wildlife of prominence to the mark of desired standardization.
Every one of us is well aware of the fact that by the turn of the day we are confronted with ever-amounting grave situation viz. noise pollution, garbage menace, burning and charring of filth, mushrooming malls and many more of its allieds and we are as such left with twin lungs, Manda and Mahamaya forests to refresh in the wee hours of morning and evening to inhale oxygen for sustenance.
This golden sanctuary of Manda is the richest and has presence of the Himalaya golden eagles, the vultures, the Indian black partridges, the Himalayan snow cocks, local cocks, the jungle fowls, jackals, the black neck cranes, doves, the war – headed goose, mongoose, duck, geese and swans, the beavers, chameleons, nightingale, Ladybirds, the spotted dear and not the least, Peacock-our national bird.
There are as many as six protected Area Network (Wildlife sanctuaries and National Parks), amongst which, there is single park by name, “Kishtwar High Attitude National Park” covering an area around 425 sq kms and other five fall under wildlife sanctuary viz. Ramnagar(Manda), Surinsar, Mansar, Nandini, Trikuta Wildlife sanctuaries.
Ramnagar or Manda Wildlife sanctuary is having a coverage of 31.50 sq kms. Apart from these sanctuaries, there are three wildlife reserves in Jammu region. Insofar as Kashmir region is concerned, there are as many as nine wildlife sanctuaries of which Dachigam is in the top slot, having an area around 171.25 sq.kms with richest inhabitation of wildlife animal, birds and reptiles, hangul being the most prominent. In addition, there are 13 conservation reserves and nine wetlands areas.
Coming to Ladakh region, this part is encompassing as many as (12) protected areas and amongst those Karakoram (Nubra) Wildlife sanctuary and Hemis high altitudinal National Parks are on the top-slot having areas around 5000.00 sq.kms and 4100 sq.kms respectively.
The Govt. should take all necessary steps to preserve the biotic diversity of Manda. Side by Side appropriate steps should be taken to promote it for ecotourism. A very welcome step, therefore, is to raise chain-link fencing of the height 6 feet and above and display entry as well exit points and routes with least disturbance to the existing bio life and that way the spirit and sanctity of the, Wildlife Protection Act shall be carried out in full spirit and at the same time trekkers-will have the high time to enjoy the nature and its surroundings.
(The author is former deputy conservator of forests (J&K)
G. L Khajuria