Assam makes determined effort to preserve lone rain forest

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Dibrugarh (Assam), Feb 13 (PTI) In a bid to conserveIndia''s easternmost rainforest here, home to seven wildcatspecies, authorities are trying to promote the wildlifepreserve as an eco-tourism destination by involving the localpopulace.

The first Rainforest Festival is being held on the banksof the Burhidihing at Jeypore in this district since Fridayand tourists, including foreigners, have thronged in largenumbers.

The Jeypore rainforest is home to a number of wildlifespecies, including many endangered ones. So far, 46 species ofmammals, 283 species of birds, 276 varieties of butterflies,102 species of orchids, 71 species of reptiles and amphibians,70 species of fishes and nearly 40 species of dragonflies anddamselflies have been recorded there.

Recently, seven wildcat species were captured on camerain the Jeypore rainforest by a wildlife biologist during asurvey by the Wildlife Conservation Society. Various speciesof valuable trees like are also found in the forest.

DFO Anurag Singh says the primary aim of the festival isto highlight the importance of rainforests.

"Our aim is to develop an exemplary eco-tourism roadmapfor Jeypore. And for this purpose, community-based eco-tourismis the best option," Singh told PTI.

According to him, this kind of festivals also gives lotof opportunities to the local people.

"The local people have taken an active part in thefestival. They have put up over 100 stalls of handicrafts,artefacts, bamboo products, pickles and ethnic food. Festivalslike these help in a long way in generating employment at thelocal level," he says.

To promote the rainforest and attract tourists, Singhsays, some long-term measures will be adopted like moreaccommodation units, involvement of locals and awarenessprogrammes.

Over these days, the festival has seen the participationof myriad of ethnic groups showcasing their ethnic culture,dresses and food habits. Elephant safaris, trekking, seminarswere also a hit.

The other highlights of the festival were display ofcustomary dresses, display of cultural heritage of the localpeople living in and around these areas, tools, ornaments usedby different tribal groups and display of the history offorest, wildlife and their association with local people intheir lives.

The rainforest and Dilli reserve forest combine to be theonly rainforest area in the state spread across the threeupper Assam''s districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sivasagarcomprising a total area of 575 sq km. The forest is listed tobe the last lowland forests under the Assam valley wetevergreen forest area in the region.

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