Arunachal Pradesh is a treasure trove of nature. It has the maximum forest cover amongst all the states of India and perhaps many parts of the world! Sixty one percent of its geographical area comprises forests. This translates to read as 51,540-sq-km. The marvel does not stop there. The forests are spread over an elevation of 100m in the foothill regions to 7,000 m in the Himalayas . Such an ecological diversity has naturally resulted in varying forest types.
The tropical forests at the foothills up to the height of 1,000 m are of the wet evergreen variety as well as the tropical evergreen variety and the riverine semi green variety. Then there are the sub tropical forests 1,000-2,000 m), the pine forests 1,000-2,000 m) and the temperate forests 2,000-3,000m). There are both the broad-leafed temperate forests as well as the conifer forests. The bamboo forests and grasslands have not been enlisted so far.
Walk On The Wild Side
The rhododendron forests of Arunachal Pradesh are really exotic. Yellow, pink, and red flowers crown little bushes that stand unmindful of the layers of snow on the ground.
Namdapha National Park - The Indian Rain Forest Region
Within one single forest, animals from four types of climatic zones can be found because the forest stretches across the four of them! The forest that covers four climatic zones is called Namdapha. Namdapha National Park, one of the surviving rain forests of the world, is located on the banks of the river Noa Dihing, which later becomes the Brahmaputra.
The park with dense vegetation is largely inaccessible and houses diverse flora and fauna that are typical of this area. An eerie silence is pierced by the screeches of preys and predators. The Majestic Gaur or Mithun, Elephant, Himalayan Black Bear, Takin, the Wild Goat peculiar to the Patkoi Range, Musk Deer, Slow Loris, Binturong and the Red Panda are all found here.
The predators include the tiger, leopard, the rare snow leopard and clouded leopard in the higher reaches of the hills. A number of primate species are to be seen in the park, such as the Assamese Macaque, Pig-Tailed Macaque, Stumptailed Macaque and the distinctive Hoolock Gibbon. Hornbills, Jungle Fowl and Pheasants flap their noisy way through the jungle, which harbours other colourful bird species. The inaccessibility of the greater part of the park has helped to keep the forests in their pristine state. The park is also a Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger.
The Namdapha National Park is a place that one must visit. Situated on the banks of water that looks crystal white reflecting the myriad shades of green that the forest has arranged as a showcase, the park's beauty is beyond compare.
Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary
Since 1972, many forest zones have been declared as national parks and sanctuaries. The Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary lies to the southwestern side of Arunachal. It is dark, deep and green, happily crossing little rivulets and moving into narrow clearing filled with animals.
Deep inside is a rest house. It is like being thrown to the wilderness when one can stay. One bathroom even has the footprints of an elephant, which visited the place when the cement had not yet set!
The Silent Creepers
The forest guards tell one that the possible visitors could be the Tiger, Leopard, Jungle Cat, Fishing Cat, Wild Dog, Jackal, Indian Fox, Bear, Black Bear, Macaque, Slow Loris, Barking Deer, Sambar and so on. Some creeps like the python, the Cobra or the Krait are distinct possibilities. The first reptile to be created is believed to have been the snake.
An Interesting Tale
A story goes that the sun used to go the field everyday for work while a bird used to baby-sit his child. The bid would strap the child to her back with a belt given specially for the purpose. One day this special belt fell off. Was the sun angry! He sent the bird to look for the belt, which was actually a snake! The snake had fallen to the earth. Everyday the bird tried to take it back, but halfway up would get fatigued and fly no more. That is why even today, birds keep picking worms and little snakes, trying to reach up there.
This is the very same forest from which the mascot for the Asian Games held in India came. "Appu" was the name of the elephant.
The lower areas are covered with swampy rainforests, great sized trees like the Hoolock, Bola and giant sized Bamboos, plentiful Climbers (most prominently of Cane) and abundant under growth. Many varieties of orchids (500), of which 175 found only in Arunachal add that touch of delicacy.
Bamboos are found even higher up. There are over 12 genera and 30 species of Bamboos occurring in Arunachal Pradesh. The higher altitudes between 1,000 to 3,000m have mainly deciduous and mixed deciduous forests. Walnuts, Oaks, Chestnuts, Pine, Spruce and Rhododendrons are found here. Short statured wild Rhododendrons are, however, found in plenty at a height of about 4,000 m. between the two areas, there comes an area of the conifers. Above the area of the Rhododendrons lies the alpine meadows at peaks just short of 5,000 m.
Other Wildlife Sanctuaries
The other sanctuaries and parks in Arunachal Pradesh are Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary, Itanagar Wildlife Sanctuary, D'Ering Memorial Sanctuary and the Moiling National Park.