The Manas National Park of Assam is spread over a 950 square kilometer area, is also a Wildlife Sanctuaty, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, a Project Tiger Reserve, an Elephant Reserve and a Biosphere Reserve at the same time. Established as a National Park in 1990, it derives its name from the Manas River flowing through these eastern Himalayan foothills. Manas River is a major tributary of the larger Brahmaputra River and passes through the heart of this National Park.
Known for the rare and endangered endemic wildlife it houses, Manas National Park is divided into three ranges which are however, not so well connected with each other. Most visitors prefer to come to Bansbari first, and then spend some time inside the forest at Mathanguri on the Manas River at the border with Bhutan. Manas and five other small rivers flow through this Park and nurture this densely forested terrain, where, over 543 varieties of plant species have so far been recorded from the core area.
The terrain of the Park consists of Sub-Himalayan Light Alluvial semi-evergreen forests to the north, East Himalayan mixed Moist and Dry Deciduous forests, Low Alluvial Savannah Woodland and the Assam Valley Semi-Evergreen Alluvial Grasslands which cover over 50 percent area of the Park. A variety of fauna recorded here consists of over 55 species of mammals, 380 species of birds, 50 species of reptiles and 3 species of amphibians.
Mammals found here include the Asian Elephant, Indian Rhinoceros, Gaurs, Asian Water Buffalo, Barasingha, Tigers, Leopards, Capped Langur, Assamese Macaques, Slow Loris, Hoolock Gibbons, Smooth Coated Otters, Sloth Bear, Barking Deer, Hog Deer, Sambar, Chital, the rare and the endangered Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare, Golden Langur and the Pygmy Hog which are found nowhere else in the world. The major bird population includes the endangered Bengal Florican, Giant Hornbills, Jungle Fowls, Bulbuls, Brahminy Ducks, Kalij Pheasants, Egrets, Pelicans, Fishing Eagles, Serpent Eagles, Falcons, Scarlet Minivets, Bee Eaters, Magpie Robins, Harriers, Osprey and Herons. The Manas National Park is only open from November to April, and closed at other times due to monsoons.