Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary Assam

The Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary, formerly known as the Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary or Hollongapar Reserve Forest, is an isolated protected area of evergreen forest located in Assam, India. The sanctuary was officially constituted and renamed in 1997. Set aside initially in 1881, its forests used to extend to the foothills of the Patkai mountain range. Since then, the forest has been fragmented and surrounded by tea gardens and small villages. In the early 1900s, artificial regeneration was used to a develop well-stocked forest, resulting in the site's rich biodiversity. The Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary contains India's only gibbons – the hoolock gibbons, and Northeastern India's only nocturnal primate – the Bengal Slow Loris. The upper canopy of the forest is dominated by the Hollong tree (Dipterocarpus macrocarpus), while the Nahar (Mesua ferrea) dominates the middle canopy. The lower canopy consists of evergreen shrubs and herbs. The habitat is threatened by illegal logging, encroachment of human settlements, and habitat fragmentation.

The Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary derives from a patch of forest once part of the Hollongapar Reserve Forest in the civil district of Jorhat in Assam, India. Set aside as a "Reserve Forest" (RF) on 27 August 1881, it was named after its dominant tree species, Hollong or Dipterocarpus macrocarpus. At the time, it was considered an "integral part" of the foothill forests of the Patkai mountain range. Although the sanctuary is currently completely surrounded by tea gardens and a few small villages, it used to connect to a large forest tract that ran to the state of Nagaland. The protected area started with 206 ha (0.80 sq mi) and then shrank in 1896 as sections were de-reserved. As tea gardens began to emerge between 1880 and 1920, and villages were established during the 1960s to rehabilitate people from Majuli and adjoining areas who had lost their lands to floods, the forest became fragmented and the reserve became isolated from the foothills.

Historically, sporadic evergreen trees covered the area along with Bojal bamboos (Pseudodactylum sp.). In 1924, artificial regeneration was introduced in an attempt to develop well-stocked, even-aged forest. These plantations along with the natural vegetation subsequently created a forest stocked with a rich variety of flora and fauna (biodiversity). During the 1900s, forest areas were added to the reserve, eventually totaling 2,098.62 ha (8.1 sq mi) by 1997.[3][4] However, the sanctuary remains fragmented into five distinct segments.

On 30 July 1997, in notification no. FRS 37/97/31, the sanctuary was constituted under the civil district of Jorhat and named it the "Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary" after the only apes found in India: the hoolock gibbons (genus Hoolock). It is the only sanctuary in India named after a gibbon due to its distinction for containing the densest gibbon populations in Assam. On 25 May 2004, the Assam Government renamed it as the "Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary" through notification no. FRP 37/97/20.

Surrounding region

The sanctuary officially extends to the Dissoi Valley Reserve Forest, Dissoi Reserve Forest, and Tiru Hill Reserve Forest, which are used as dispersal areas for Indian elephants (Elephas maximus indicus) and other animals. Three extensive tea gardens that belong to the estates of Dissoi, Kothalguri, and Hoolonguri span the distance between the Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary and the nearest forests in Nagaland, the Dissoi Valley Reserve Forest. The tea gardens include Katonibari, Murmurai, Chenijan, Koliapani, Meleng, Kakojan, Dihavelleoguri, Dihingapar, Kothalguri, Dissoi and Hoolonguri. Neighboring villages include Madhupur, Lakhipur, Rampur, Fesual A (the western part), Fesual B (the eastern part), Katonibari, Pukhurai, Velleoguri, Afolamukh, and Kaliagaon.

Fauna

The sanctuary has a rich biodiversity and is home to the only apes in India, the Western Hoolock Gibbon (Hoolock hoolock),[1][3] as well as the only nocturnal primate found in the northeast Indian states, the Bengal Slow Loris (Nycticebus bengalensis).[1][5] Other primates include the Stump-tailed Macaque (Macaca arctoides), Northern Pig-tailed Macaque (Macaca leonina), Eastern Assamese Macaque (Macaca assamensis assamensis), Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta), and Capped Langur (Trachypithecus pileatus). Also found at the sanctuary are Indian elephants, tigers (Panthera tigris), leopards (Panthera pardus), jungle cats (Felis chaus), wild boar (Sus scrofa), three types of civet, four types of squirrel, and several other types of mamaml. At least 219 species of bird and several types of snake are known to live in the park.[1]

 Flora

Most of the vegetation within Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary is evergreen in character and is composed of several canopy layers.

The upper canopy consists mostly of Dipterocarpus macrocarpus rising 12 to 30 m (39 to 98 ft) and having straight trunks. Other species found in the top canopy include Sam (Artocarps chaplasha), Amari (Amoora wallichi), Sopas (Mcheliai spp.), Bhelu (Tetramels mudiflora), Udal (Sterculia villosa) and Hingori (Castanopsis spp.).

Nahar (Mesua ferrea) dominates the middle canopy with its spreading crown, casting fairly heavy shade over a wide area. Other species that make up the middle canopy include Bandordima (Dysoxylum procerum), Dhuna (Conarium resiniferum), Bhomora (Terminalia belerica), Ful Gomari (Gmelina sp.) Bonbogri (Pterospermum lanceafolium), Morhal (Vatica lanceafolia), Selleng (Sapium baccatum), Sassi (Aqualari agolacha), and Otenga (Dillenia indica).

A variety of evergreen shrubs and herbs make up the lower canopy and ground layers. The most common of these are Dolu bamboo (Teinosstachyum dullooa), Bojal bamboo (Pseudostachyam polymorphum), Jengu (Calamus erectus), Jati bet (Calamus spp.), Houka bet (Calamus spp.), Tora (Alpinia allughas), Kaupat (Phrynium imbricatum), and Sorat (Laported cremulata).

The sanctuary is connected by road from Jorhat city (20kms) and Mariani town (5kms). Nearest airport is at Jorhat.

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