Responsible Tourism in Assam
Manas National Park is a World Heritage Site, and one of the most prominent biodiversity hotspots of Northeast India, boasting of a wide range of flora and fauna. But during the 1990’s, the national park witnessed a dark period – where poaching and logging almost wiped out the ecology of the National Park. The last decade has seen a lot of improvement, fueled by pro-conservation decisions taken by the government and wildlife groups who worked with local communities.
In 2005, a non-profit organization called Manas Ever Welfare Society (MEWS) was established. The NGO was formed by volunteering enthusiastic youths from the villages around the national park, to bring an end to the rampant poaching that was going on, and to spread awareness in the local communities about wildlife. Since then, MEWS has brought about tremendous change in the mindsets of the people, and many of the poachers have surrendered, only to become conversationalists and guides.
MEWS has developed three accommodation facilities in the national park to cater to travelers. Run by local youths, with the support of Greener Pastures and other like-minded organizations, the influx of visitors has boosted the morale of the entire community and generated much needed local income. A new sense of love towards wildlife and conservation has been successfully established by this initiative. Small scale tourism as a new source of economy has helped solve a lot the village problems, and the extra money is even spent on monitoring wildlife and erecting watchtowers to detect illegal incursions.