Guwahati: Assam got its seventh national park, two within a week, with a notification declaring Dehing-Patkai as so on Wednesday, state Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said.

The Raimona National Park in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) was notified as the sixth such park on the occasion of World Environment Day on June 5.

The state now has the second highest number of national parks in the country.

Madhya Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands have nine national parks each, the minister said in a statement.

“The newly created national parks will help boost conservation efforts and also provide fillip to tourism and agriculture sectors,” Suklabaidya said.

The newest national park, popularly known as Dehing Patkai Rain Forest, has unique floral and faunal diversity, which was recognized by the state government in 2004, when 111.19 square kilometres of the area was notified as Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary.

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Forest and wildlife conservation have now been further strengthened as another 123.07 sq km has been added to the original sanctuary area, the minister said.

The area is home to hoolock gibbon, elephant, slow loris, tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, golden cat, fishing cat, marble cat, sambar, hog deer, sloth bear, and several bird species including the endangered state bird, the white-winged wood duck.

Till date, 47 mammal species, 47 reptile species and 310 butterfly species have been recorded.

The notified national park includes areas falling within the existing Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary along with Upper Dehing reserve forest (West Block) and Jeypore reserve forest.

However, the village area has been excluded from it, Suklabaidya said.

For intensive patrolling and conservation of the new area, additional anti-poaching camps and manpower is being provided by the state government.

The National Park comprises pristine forests along the Assam-Arunachal interstate boundary, classified as the Assam Valley Tropical Wet Evergreen Forest.

Former Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had directed the forest department in July last year to upgrade Dehing Patkai to a National Park following protests against coal mining inside the sanctuary.

Tea gardens, village settlements, deforestation, oil and coal exploration had irreversibly destroyed the previously contiguous rainforests and most of the surviving patches existed in isolation from each other, therefore slowly and progressively losing the extraordinary characteristics that define a rainforest.

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