MANGALDAI, May 12 � In view of the sheer negligence on the part of the State Forest department in general and the Mangaldai Wild Life Division in particular, the Orang National Park in Darrang district, the only natural habitat for the world famous one-horned rhino on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra river, has been recording a major decrease in the number of visitors over the last few years.
The National Park, covering a geographical area of just above 78 sqkm, is also considered to be �Mini Kaziranga� for the resemblance of its wild flora and fauna with that of the Kaziranga National Park. But if one wants to recount the adventure of dense forest, then he would definitely prefer Orang to Kaziranga. Almost all the wild fauna that are found in Kaziranga are also stated to be available in Orang.
According to a recent survey, the Park has recorded about 120 rhinos, 30 tigers (Royal Bengal), 39 elephants, 17 wild buffaloes, more than 60 wild pigs and over 4,000 deer in addition to a variety of avian, amphibian species that add to the rich biodiversity of Orang. It is also the epitome of natural beauty as the Park is surrounded by many age-old water bodies, including the mighty Brahmaputra and its tributary Dhanshiri.
Tourists can find enough scope of adventure while taking the river route dotted with small river islands, called jhaoni in local language, and cutting across these would make the journey more pleasant. However, the State government has miserably to tap the vibrant potential of the Park for promoting it to be a major tourist destination.
On the contrary, the alleged attitude of neglect of the State Forest department year after year has raised doubts in the minds of nature-lovers about the fate of the Park to remain as a promising source of tourist revenue for the district of Darrang. The statistics have shown a gradual decrease in the number of visitors to the Park over the last four years, thereby depriving the State exchequer of a sizeable amount of revenue.
The Park sources have informed that in the year 2012-13, 52 foreign and 2,046 Indian visitors entered the Park. However, this figure shows a decreasing trend in comparison to that of 2011-12 that recorded foreign visitors as 159 and Indians as 2,678. In the 2013-14 tourist season, only 25 foreign and 2,171 Indian visitors entered the Park through which the authority earned a revenue of Rs 2,32,350.
Unfortunately, this tourist season, which started on November 1 and ended on April 30, has recorded a decrease of 381 visitors in comparison to the previous season. According to the information, a total of 1,815 tourists, including 31 foreigners, visited the Park, while the revenue earned was Rs 1,97,257.
The nature-lovers alleged that due to deplorable road condition and the lack of sufficient vehicular facility, besides the poor infrastructure inside the Park, the tourists do not want to revisit Orang. Moreover, the Park authority over the last four-five years has never made any attempt to highlight it as an attractive tourist destination through media publicity. Rather the Mangaldai Wild Life Division, the responsible authority to look after the Park, is allegedly maintaining a clear distance not only from the local media but also from the District Information and Public Relation department.