Winter is the perfect time to visit the homes of rare and exotic species of plants and animals. The weather stays pleasant sans rains, so you do not have to worry about the leeches when you tread through jungles. With January almost getting over, we suggest you hang on to the rage of New Year’s adventures and plan a wild trip to some of the most alluring wildlife sanctuaries in Northeast.
1. Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in the Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya, near Lailad village, this sanctuary is home to dynamic wildlife, including Royal Bengal Tiger, Indian Bison, Himalayan Black Bear, Clouded Leopard and rare species of birds (such as Brown Hornbill, Manipur Bush Quail and Rufous Necked Hornbill. It is easily accessible via the Guwahati–Shillong highway, along Umling.
Austen’s Brown Hornbill can be found only in Northeast India, Vietnam and Thailand.
2. Siju Bird Sanctuary
Siberian Duck found in northern coasts of Europe, North America and eastern Siberia migrate towards Northeast and can be spotted in Siju Bird Sanctuary.
For the love of birds, head towards South Garo Hills, near Baghmara to Siju Bird Sanctuary. This place is a paradise for bird watchers. During winter, you can spot The Siberian Duck, migrating from far-off regions. Other rare population includes The Lesser or Grey Hornbill, Peacock Pheasant. One can avail personal transport and taxis from Guwahati or Shillong. One must also visit Baghmara Reserve Forest and Siju Caves (3rd longest cave in the Indian Subcontinent) – located close by.
3. Bura Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary
Spread over 44.06 sq km, this wildlife sanctuary is in Sonitpur, Assam – 40 km from Tezpur and 181 km from Guwahati. Indian rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, wild buffalo, hog deer, wild pigs and occasionally a herd of elephants can be spotted in this serene place. Birds such as black-necked stork, mallard, openbill stork, teal, whistling duck, etc. can also be seen. Well-known for the one-horned Rhinoceros and the Bengal Florican, this grassland is filled with medicinal and commercial plants. One can take a bus from Tezpur (35 km) or board a taxi from Salonibari airport, Tezpur. Another easy option is to travel by train, as the railway station is just about 30 km from the sanctuary.
The Bengal florican, also called Bengal bustard, is a bustard species native to the Indian subcontinent.
4. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
Situated in Morigaon, Assam, an hour’s drive from Guwahati through a small part of the Mayong village will take you to these magnificent beasts that dwell here. It has a dense population of the Great Indian one-horned rhinoceros and is home to more than 2000 migratory birds and 375 species of birds, and is also called ‘Bharatpur of the East’. Pobitora runs successful Rhino-breeding program within its sanctuary.
Migratory birds in Pobitora wildlife sanctuary
5. Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary
18 km from the sub-divisional town of Belonia, Trishna wildlife sanctuary is connected with Agartala through the state highway. Rich in vegetation and water bodies, the main attraction of this sanctuary is the Indian Gaur (Bison), but their numbers have drastically reduced. Besides this, various birds, deers, hollock gibbons, golden langurs, capped langurs, pheasants, etc., are also found here.
6. Gumti Wildlife Sanctuary
Situated in South of Tripura, Gumti wildlife sanctuary is home to elephants, sambar deer, buffalo, yapping deer, sarow or wild goat, et al. The semi-evergreen sanctuary has a huge water reservoir that attracts migratory and resident birds, such as large whistling teals and Burmese sub-species of sarus crane during winters. The sanctuary can be reached via Ambassa and Gandacherra or via Amarpur-Jatanbari.
Endangered Hoolock Gibbon found in Gumti wildlife sanctuary
7. Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary
This sanctuary meets the Sessa Orchid Sanctuary to the northeast and Pakhui Tiger Reserve across the Kameng river to the east in West Kameng district, Arunachal Pradesh. Home to at least 454 species of birds, it derives its name from the Red Eagle Division of the Indian Army, which was stationed there in the 1950’s. A wide variety of amphibians and mammals also reside here, along with at least 165 species of butterflies.
The sanctuary is well connected by road to the Tawang–Tezpur road. The nearest railway station is at Bhalukpong and the closets airport is at Tezpur, with a good frequency of flights.
8. Khawnglung Wildlife Sanctuary
Mizoram is the best getaway for those who dig hills, pleasant weather and wildlife. At a height of 1300 m from sea level, 170km away from Aizawl, Sambhar, Hoolock Gibbon, Himalayan Serow (considered to be under threat of extinction), Wild Boar, Barking Deer, Leopard and a large variety of other wild creatures are found in this sanctuary.
9. Tawi Wildlife Sanctuary
Situated in Mizoram, 101 km from Aizawl, It hosts many rare and endangered species. To visit this sanctuary, one can go via road from Aizawl through Chhingchhip.
10. Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary
Sikkim has 1 national park and 6 wildlife sanctuaries. The Khangchendzonga National Park is the largest wildlife reserve in Sikkim. Rich in both flora and fauna, The Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary is about 31 km east of Gangtok. It hosts rare ground orchids, rhododendrons, tall junipers and taller silver firs, Rhododendron niveum (the State Tree of Sikkim) and Cypripedium tibeticum (the ground slipper orchid). Endangered musk deer, red panda, Himalayan black bear, serow [long haired goat] and some species of pheasants are also present here.
11. Maenama Wildlife Sanctuary
Endangered Red Panda found in Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary
Known as “treasure-house of medicines”, it is a wildlife reserve in South Sikkim. It is famous for plants with medicinal value, red panda, leopard, black eagle and civet cat amongst other animals and birds live in this sanctuary. The 3,263 meters high Maenam Peak also lies within the confines of the reserve.
Sikkim Snow Leopard
12. Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary
This scenic and thriving wildlife sanctuary is in Kiphire district, Nagaland. With a wide range of flora and fauna, it also has over a dozen species of ferns. The best way to reach this sanctuary is by road from Kohima. The nearest railway station is the Dimapur and the airport is about 73 km from Kohima.
The key difference between national parks and wildlife sanctuaries is that no human activity is allowed inside National Parks, while limited activities are permitted within wildlife sanctuaries. It is best to contact the state department forest officers, and receive prior permission and few helpful tips. You can also read up online for more information.