Paradise Lost and Regained: Lessons from the National Parks of India

Posted September 2012 By SER

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In 1985 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated two world heritage sites in the tiny, mountainous province of Assam in northeastern India. Yet these two parks, just 100 miles apart, and once joined by dense forest, were to experience very different fates over the following 25 years. Where Kaziranga has thrived, and its population of flagship rhinos quintupled, poachers have wiped out Manas' own rhino population and its habitat has been pillaged. This tale of two parks offers an important lesson on how to maintain healthy ecosystems: the welfare of local people, their engagement, and the alignment of political will across geographical scales are often critical to a park's long-term success.

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