Last April, during Bihu, I was in Jorhat at my grandma's place and we planned to visit the Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary is named after the hoolock gibbon monkeys, which are found here in abundance. Its local name is Hollou bandor. We reached Mariani and went through the entrance of the park. We cannot really call it an entrance gate, as it is just a muddy road with the forest on one side and paddy fields on the other. We reached the forest office to take permits to go inside the forest. They granted us permission. But there was no vehicle facility, so we had to walk inside the forest with a guide. As it was Springtime, everything was green inside the forest. I saw wild pigs and many birds, but my eyes were up on the trees, looking for the gibbons. I was holding my camera tightly so that the gibbons wouldn.t snatch it away, but the guide told us that they are very well-behaved. They are a bit different from the regular monkeys that we see in our cities. When a gibbon falls sick, the monkey family sits together and prays. They stay together until the monkey gets well. The young monkeys start their own family after mating, leaving behind the parents. When a gibbon dies, the partner does not mate again. I was astonished to hear that.
This sanctuary has about 26 families with 105 hoolock gibbons. And, we looked all around to sight one. Suddenly, we saw a female gibbon up on a very tall tree. As she saw us, she stopped for a while. I tried to call her but she went away. Then we also saw a male gibbon nearby. The guide said they were a new couple.
In the forest, we saw various precious trees, including some highly-valued Agar trees. As we went further in, we saw a rail line running through the forest, separating it into two. The guide told us about an incident when once a family of elephants was killed by a train while the pachyderms were crossing the line. I felt very sad to see the condition of our State where the government pays more interest to the railways, rather than on maintaining a wildlife park. A flyover has been made, tied with ropes, to connect the two ends of the forest for the gibbons to cross over. But, no one has ever seen any monkey crossing over, as the flyover hasn't been constructed well. Even today, many animals get killed at the rail track.
The guide told us that people from all over the world come to the Sanctuary. We also met some professional photographers from different parts of India, who were taking pictures of rare birds and butterflies. But it's sad that most people in our State don't know about this wildlife sanctuary. The government must conserve the Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary and popularize it. The forest officer gave me a leaflet about the Sanctuary and I came to know that it is the only Sanctuary in India named after a primate. It is also the only sanctuary in India with seven species of monkeys, including the hoolock gibbon, the only Indian non-human ape. The Sanctuary is a unique habitat of the hoolock gibbon, capped langur, slow loris, Asiatic elephant, leopard, tiger, pangolin, Indian python, common lizard, Indian tent turtle, hornbill, hill mynah, kalij pheasant and the white-winged wood duck. It is our duty to conserve these beautiful gifts of Nature.