By Sreeparna Purkayastha
Most of the time in our lives, we tend to not give any importance to what really needs our attention until we realize or get to know its actual worth when we are on the verge of losing it.
On the 72nd Republic Day, I had the privilege to visit Inner Line Reserve Forest of Barak Valley which is reportedly the largest Reserve Forest of Assam of having an area of around 110,000 hectares. On one side, it is surrounded by the Assam-Mizoram border and another side has Cachar-Hailakandi boundary. That day, we took the entry from the latter side at around 8 a.m. which is around 20kms away from the place I stay in. We were a group of about eight to ten people from various Departments of Assam University, Silchar campus. During our walk, we were provided with an official guide from the Forest Office of that area.
The Inner Line Reserve Forest has a very huge and diverse habitat. But, before I pen down my experience I would like to bring it to the notice of everyone reading this, its high time that forests like this need proper attention of Bioconservationists to save the natural habitat which is already on the doors of threat or extinction.
Coming to the experience and sightseeing part, right after we started our walk through the trees and bushes, we could spot Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela). Spectacled Langur (Trachypithecus phayrei), a rare and endangered species which is known as the State Animal of our neighboring state, Tripura is also found here which most of the people don’t know about. But, we were fortunate enough to spot one of those. Another amazing sight that day for us was the “grooming of Spotted Owlet couple”. Other birds like Black Drongo, Red- whiskered Bulbul etc. were seen. Among the plants, we could find a rare one as well in the midst of the dense forest. It is a carnivorous or insectivorous plant to be precise commonly known as Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) which is one of the only two carnivorous plants that are found in the North-Eastern region of India. The other one is the Pitcher Plant (Nepenthes sp.), found majorly in Meghalaya. Another animal which we missed out on seeing that day was some species of Deer which the guide informed us can be seen mostly during the sunrise. Though I really wanted to see them and know the exact kind but nevertheless. Maybe next time.
Words can never justify what one really experiences in such enthralling scenarios though I tried in my own way to the best of my ability. But, let me try to grab your attention to the most crucial and alarming experience of us that day. Over the years, due to carelessness and negligence of the locals and officials over there and I am sure that in most other such Reserve Forests in our country, these forests are losing their diversity and the natural beauty that they possess. On our walk, it came to our notice that there were small colonies inside the forest whose natives were residing there without proper permission.Their main livelihood was cutting the trees and selling the woods in the nearby markets.
They are absolutely unaware of the fact that it is disturbing the natural forest bed which could be actually harmful for all of us in the coming times. We were extremely disheartened to see many manmade large holes that were most likely dug in by the poachers to look out for Pangolins and Porcupines that we heard of being there in this very forest.We all will only realize what we really are doing when the worst would already be done and at that time we won’t be able to even undo it. So for all of us who are nature lovers and are already aware of it, this is the high and most threatening time for us to work for the nature and it’s habitat for our own good otherwise we will not be able to get the time to even repent it later.
On a personal level, after being hugely motivated and getting inspired by my brother and being a nature as well as an animal lover myself; but on the contrary, after much contemplation too, I could finally experience something as beautiful of that sort. It was my first ever “Nature Walk” as they termed it which I will cherish for the longest time possible. I am blessed to have some friends whom I consider my family to give this opportunity to me and enjoy the trip as much as any of our other trips. My brother got even more excited listening to the stories I told him over phone call once we were back home, plans about our next trips and asked me to take him along for that as we both share the same kind of vibes and likings.
Lastly, for all my lovely readers out there, if you really want to experience something as exciting and adventurous like we did, then my humble request to all of you is that please do pay a visit to the Inner Hill Reserve Forest or any other such forest for once to see the actual cage-free and independent habitat of our planet and you will thank me later for that. Once you fall in love with the nature, there will be no looking back. With that, I just want to say that I can’t wait to go for my next adventure with my people and tell the world about that.