Keibul Lamjao-The Floating National Park

Keibul Lamjao park Credit: Dr. Aveek Samanta

Do you know the only floating national park in the world is present in India? This park is present in Manipur and not far from the state capital Imphal. Believe it or not, this park is floating over the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India called Loktak. Not only that this area is the last habitat of the Sangai, the dancing deer.The deer was reported extinct in 1951 but again found in 1975.Sangai is also regarded as the state animal of Manipur.Peoples of Manipur believe that this deer is the binding soul between human and nature.The name of the park comes from the Manipuri language Kel (tiger), Pul (gather) and Lamjao (vast land) mean the land where tigers gathered. The total area of the park is 40 sq km. The site was declared as a sanctuary in 1955 and national park in 1975.

The park is floating by an organic biomass, locally called ‘Phumdi’ spreading around 26 Sq Km. The initiation of the mass started from an undecomposed organic matter of hyacinth (Hyacinthussp). Later the mass gradually colonized by grass and herbaceous plants. The vegetative matter composed of Organic carbon (36%), nitrogen (2.08%), organic matter (24.98%) and mineral matter (37.94%). The thickness of the phumdi is 8 ft and float one fifth and four fifths under the water. The core of the phumdi is composed of black, spongy detritus material. The changing water level is important for the growth of the phumdi.When the water level rises during monsoon the animal takes their shelter in the emerged lands from the bottom of the lake.The thickness (at least 3 meters) of phumdi is essential for supporting the weight of the wild animals. It is very interesting to note that when the hooves of the Sangai deer sink in the phumdi they try to pull it out quickly which looks they are dancing.

Some Fauna of the Park:

The main animal present in the park are the Brow- Antlered Deer, Sangai (Rucervuseldieldi), Hog deer (Axis porcinus), Wild pig ( Susscrofasp), Common otter (Luthraluthrasp) and Indian Civet cat (Viverriculataindica).This park is also the vising site of  many migratory bird like Baer’s Pochard (Aythyabarri), Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata),Northern pintail (Anasacuta).

Some flora of the park:

Zizanialatifolia(Local name-LshingKambong), Cynodondactylon, Phragmitiskarka(Local name -Tao) ,Alipiniagalanga, Leersiahexandra(Local name -Hup), Saccharumbenghalensis, Oenanthejavanica(Local name -Komprek) , Arundodonax (Local name -Luwangtou), Saccharumspontaneum(Local name –Khoimom), Capillipediumsp(Local name -Luwangtou).

This park is now facing various ecological threats. The water quality of the lake is deteriorating due to hyper-eutrophication. The connecting rivers Nambul and Nambol are polluted in terms of water quality and sediment content. Due to the thinning and disintegration of phumdi, the habitat of sangai population is reduced to 8 sq km. Forest department taking actions to conserve the area. They are trying to compact more phumdi patches by bamboo frames. Anti-poaching camps are established. This measures showing some good results.TheSangai population increases from 14 to 260 in recent years. Moreover, the local people of the area and forest department are trying to conserve the spectacular creation of nature.

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