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Dehing Patkai Sanctuary - Wildlife Heaven
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Not known to many that the dense forests of the north east corner of India is actually home to the only wet Tropical rainforest of the country. This rare rain-forest of India is named as Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary and is located in Assam. It is situated in the foot hill of HImalayan range of Arunachal Pradesh. Dehing is the river flows through this forest and Patkai is the name of the hill on the foot of which it lies.

The Dehing-Patkai, declared as Wildlife Sanctuary in 2004, includes parts of Upper Dehing West reserve forest, Dirok rainforest and part of Jeypore. The total size of this protected area is 110 square kilometer. The forest covers part of both Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts if Assam.

Patkai Hill and Dehing River

An NGO, Nature's Beacon, headed by famous naturalist from Assam, Soumyadeep Dutta, brought this unique forest of the region into global highlight in late 1990s. The focus in that forest was important as it was slowly losing its wildlife and trees due to industrialization by oil companies in the region and also cultivation by increasing population.

Various researches have been done in the Dehing-Patkai forest recently and all of them have revealed very interesting facts about the sanctuary. In 2010, a stunning news originated here, rocked worldwide wildlife lovers! The news revealed that there are seven wild cat species found in the rain forest. Kashmira Kakati, a wildlife photographer took photos of all these seven species of wild cats using trap camera. The seven species includes Tiger, Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Leopard Cat, Golden Cat, Jungle Cat and Marbled Cat. It is the only forest in the world having seven different species of wild cat. This news proved the Dehing-Patkai Sanctuary to be the wild-cat heaven.

Another very special fact about the forest is that similar to wild cats, it is also heaven to primates. Out of fifteen species of non-human primates found in India, Seven inhabit in this rainforest. These are Rhesus macaque, Assamese macaque, Slow loris, Capped langur, Pigtailed macaque, Stumptailed macaque and Hoolock gibbon. All but Assamese Macaque are declared endangered in the Red Data Book of the Zoological Survey of India and also in IUCN red list.

The Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary is also identified as Elephant reserve by Indian Government. Other rare mammal includes Chinese pangolin, Flying fox, Wild pig, Sambar, Barking deer, Gaur, Serow, Malayan giant squirrels, Porcupine etc.

Dehing-Patkai is also home to some of the beautiful and rare birds. Few rare bird species found in the forest are Lesser Adjutant Stork, White Winged Wood duck, White-backed Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture, White cheeked Hill Partridge, Khaleej Pheasant, Grey Peacock-Pheasant, Rufus necked Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Great Pied Hornbill, Beautiful Nuthatch, Black-browed Leaf Wabler, Green Imperial Pigeon, Purple wood or Pale capped Pigeon etc. Some of the reptile species of the sanctuary are Rock python, King cobra, Asian leaf turtle, Monitor Lizard, etc.

The bidiversity in the record says about 46 species of mammals, 283 species of birds, 276 species of butterflies, 70 species of fhish, 71 species of reptiles, 70 species of dragon flies.

Many exotic species of orchids are found in the region. There is an abundance of ferms, epiphytes, Wild Banana , orchids, Arums, climbers and linas in this humid forest forest habitat. Some of the importance tree species found in this forest area are Hollang, Mekai, Dhuna, Udiyam, Nahar, Samkothal, Bheer, Hollock, Nahor, Elephant apple, different species of Dimoru etc.

How to reach
The nearest airport is Dibrugarh which is just 80 km from the Dehing-Patkai Sanctuary. Digboi, Duliajan ot Margherita are the closest town to the forest. The towns are within 20 km from the forest. Bus or taxi can be availed from the Dibrugarh (Mohanbari) Airport to these towns. Dibrugarh town is also well connected with trains.

View Dehing Patkai in a larger map
The Forest with the Dehing River as viewed from Google Satellite

Things to do
WIldlife watch is going to be the main attraction for the tourists. The dense forest with unique vegetation is really mesmerizing. The banks of the river Dehing (Dihing) prvides very nice landscapes. The tribal villages nearby are symbol of colorful culture of the region. Every tribe carries own tradition and its worth a visit. These tribes and communities include Tai Phake, Khamyang, Khampti, Singpho, Nocte, Ahom, Nepali, Burmese. Digboi town nearby is a historical town as it is home to the first commercial oil well of Asia was established by the British. It is still home to the oldest refinery in the continent. World War II cemeteries nearby the forest also attract visitors. One can also visit the famous Stilwell Road, which was once the passage to the golden land of Myanmar. Namsang is a scenic spot nearby, Naamphake is a budhdhist village with very unique culture.

The traditional tribal attire in Jeypore Festival

Where to Stay
Forest Inspection Bungalow at Digboi. Contact - Divisional Forest Officer, Digboi Division, Digboi, Tel.- 03751-264433. The Private Lodges are - Digboi Tourist Lodge cum Restaurant, Golai No.1, Digboi, P.O. Digboi, Tel.- 94351 69247, Central Transit Accommodation, I.O.C. Digboi, Tel.- 03751-264025 Digboi also has hotels which don't require advance booking and can be checked in.

When to Visit
Post monsoon season and throgh out the winter which spans from late September to till March. In winter the lowest temperature is 8-10 degree celcius and post monsoon highest temperature is less then 30 degree celcius. The best time to visit is during the Dehing-Patkai rainforest festival celebrated in the month of February.

Dehing-Patkai Rainforest Festival:
Also known as Jeypore Rainforest Festival, this festival attracts tourists all across the world. It is not only a festival of wildlife and rainforests, but also of tribal culture, adventure and sports. See details of the Festival in 2011 here. The festival aims to promote the eco-cultural tourism in the region.

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