Kakoijana Reserve Forest: Villagers resist sanctuary tag for langur habitat

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Villagers in Assam’s Bongaigaon district have opposed a move by the State government to upgrade Kakoijana Reserve Forest to a wildlife sanctuary.

What is Kakoijana Reserve Forest?

Kakoijana Reserve Forest is located in Bongaigaon district of Assam. It was constituted in the year 1966 as a reserve forest. The reserve is one of the better-known homes of the golden langur (Trachypithecus geei).

Note: Golden langur is found only in Assam and Bhutan. It is listed in the world’s 25 most endangered primates.

Why are Villagers opposing the conversion of Kakoijana Reserve Forest into a Wildlife Sanctuary?

Once the Kakoijana Reserve Forest is converted to a wildlife sanctuary, stricter rules will be applied and this will impact the customary and traditional practices and consequently result in villagers losing the rights over the forest. 

Instead, the villagers have demanded that the reserve forest should be converted into a community forest reserve using Forest Rights Act, 2006. This is because some of the areas inside the forest are sacred, and its sanctity should be maintained.

Must Read: All about Protected Area Networks-National Parks, Wildlife sanctuaries, Biosphere reserves and more

Moreover, the villagers have also said that they can conserve the forest better. They pointed out that the conservation efforts by them had helped the authorities concerned to restore the forest canopy from less than 5% to more than 70%. This in turn helped increase the golden langur population from less than 100 to more than 600 over almost three decades. 

Must read: Proposed Changes to Forest Conservation Act 1980 – Explained, pointwise

Source: This post is based on the article “Villagers resist sanctuary tag for langur habitat published in The Hindu on 5th Feb 2022.

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