Pakke Wildlife Sanctuary lies in the foothills of the Eastern Himalaya, in the Pakke-Kessang District of Arunachal Pradesh. It’s also known as Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary, Pakhui/Pakke Tiger Reserve. In a notification (CWL/D/26/94/1393-1492) dated Itanagar 19 April 2001, issued by the Principal Secretary, the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh renamed Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary as Pakke Wildlife Sanctuary Division.
This Tiger Reserve has won India Biodiversity Award 2016 in the category of ‘Conservation of threatened species’ for its Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme.
The tract of the protected area falls within the land area of Pakke river and Kameng river. It has an area of 861.95 Sq.Km with geographical variations of terai and rugged siwalik ranges.
It falls within the Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity Hotspot.
The area of Pakke Tiger Reserve was initially constituted as Pakhui Reserve Forest on 1 July 1966 and declared a game reserve on 28 March 1977. In 2001, it was renamed Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary and became Pakhui Tiger Reserve on 23 April 2002 as the 26th Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
Location and Geography
Pakke Tiger Reserve adjoins reserved forests and Nameri National Park of Assam in south and south-east. To its East, lies the Pakke River and Papum Reserve Forest. In the West, the park is bounded by the Bhareli or Kameng River, Doimara Range Forest and Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary. And in the North, it is flanked by the Kameng River and the Shergaon Forest Division.
The habitat types in the park include are lowland semi-evergreen, evergreen forest and Eastern Himalayan broad-leaf forests.
The reserves elevations range from 100 to 2,000 m (330 to 6,560 ft) above msl. The Pakke river flows down from the West of the Sanctuary towards the South which ultimately meets with the Jiya varali river in Assam.
A total of 343 woody species of flowering plants (angiosperms) have been recorded from the lowland areas of the park, with a high representation of species from the families Euphorbiaceae and Lauraceae, but at least 1500 species of vascular plants are expected from Pakhui WLS, of which 500 species would be woody. The forest has a typical layered structure and the major emergent species are Bhelu Tetrameles nudiflora, Borpat Ailanthus grandis and Jutuli Altingia excelsa.
The general vegetation type of the entire tract is classified as Assam Valley tropical semi-evergreen forest. The forests are multi-storeyed and rich in epiphytic flora and woody lianas. The vegetation is dense, with a high diversity and density of woody lianas and climbers. The forest types include tropical semi-evergreen forests along the lower plains and foothills dominated by Kari Polyalthia simiarum, Hatipehala Pterospermum acerifolium, Karibadam Sterculia alata, Paroli Stereospermum chelonioides, Ailanthus grandis and Khokun Duabanga grandiflora.
These forests have a high percentage of tree species (64%) that are animal-dispersed, with 12% tree species being wind-dispersed.
At least 40 mammal species occur in Pakhui Tiger Reserve (PTR). Three large cats – the Bengal tiger, Indian leopard and clouded leopard share space with two canids – the wild dog and Asiatic jackal.
The notable animals here are tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, jungle cat, wild dog jackal, Himalayan black bear, binturong, elephant, gaur, sambar, hog deer, barking deer, wild boar, yellow throated Martin, Malayan giant squirrel, flying squirrel, squirrel, civet, capped langur, rhesus macaque, Assamese macaque, and bison.
The presence of stamp tailed macaques has been reported by one researcher.
At least 296 bird species have been recorded from PTR including the globally endangered white-winged wood duck, the unique ibisbill, and the rare Oriental bay owl. PTR is a good place to see hornbills. Roost sites of wreathed hornbills and great hornbill can be observed on the river banks.
Sightings of four resident hornbill species have been reported.
It is estimated that Pakke Tiger Reserve could be home to at least 500 species of butterflies.
A total of 36 reptile species and 30 amphibian species have been reported in Pakke Tiger Reserve. The Assam roofed turtle, a highly endangered species, is commonly sighted.
Protection and Conservation
What makes PTR special are the brilliant efforts of the Forest Department and local communities like that of Nyishi Tribe who inhabit the area around the park to protect the wildlife here. The significant measures that included penalties on wildlife violation changed the scenario in the reserve, making it quite a safe place for the flora and fauna to flourish in peace.
The tribal population used to wear the head-gear (cap) with the beak of hornbill. Even the meat of the bird was a delicacy to them. But with the motivation of the Sanctuary authority and with the help of local leaders, an institutional outlook and norms have taken place. The tribal inhabitants have decided not to hunt any animals or birds and the substitution of plastic-made hornbill beak has been accepted by the local society. They have even taken a decision to impose a heavy fine on any person who would be caught committing such an offense. This has been taken and accepted with the traditional culture of the tribal.
Presently, there are 27 anti-poaching camps where 104 local youth and 20 gaon buras (village fathers) have been employed as forest watchers. A 41 km (25 mi) road has been constructed to ease logistics and deter poachers. The people living around the park belong to the Nyishi community. The Ghora Aabhe (a group of village chiefs) and Women Self Help Groups help authorities in wildlife protection by providing information and enforcing customary laws. The Nyishi community has joined hands with civil society and the forest department to protect hornbill nests. The Nyishi tribe uses fiber glass replicas of hornbills beaks as their head gear and has fines for hunting of tigers, among other regulations.
The Ghora Aabhe Society (a group of village chiefs) was formed in 2006. A group of 12 village heads, along with the forest department, supports conservation efforts around Pakhui Tiger Reserve (PTR). Their work has been widely recognised, through several awards and articles in print media. The Ghora Aabhe enforce customary laws, institute penalties against hunting and logging, aid in capacity building and spread awareness of PTR.