BIO-DIVERSITY & ECO-TOURISM: A CASE STUDY IN THE WORLD FAMOUS RIVER ISLAND MAJULI

Assistant Professor, Department of Economic
Majuli College, Kamalabari, Jorhat, Assam

Abstract
Bio-diversity plays an important role in the growth of human civilization and culture. Similarly man has also helped activity or in a passively way formation of the diverse-eco system. Man’s relation genetic, species and ecological bio-diversity is very important. Majuli has immense potentiality for tourism development; only a small portion of it has been identified and developed so far. It is due to lack of proper survey and necessary initiatives. Through this paper, an attempt is made to highlight the scope of eco-tourism and economic development of Majuli.

1. Introduction
Majuli, the largest fresh water inhabited river island in the world has an incomparable location; Majuli is the glory and colorful jewel of the mighty Brahmaputra. This island is the one of the richest Bio-diversity areas of the north-east India. Majuli is very rich in wild plant and animal resources and of course there is a tremendous diversity have gained importance and curiosity among the environmentalists which is helping tourism industry to keep forward its pace. There is an enough potentials of Eco-Tourism in Majuli.

2. Objectives of Study
The main objectives of the study-
i) To study the divergent species of flora and fauna.
ii) To study the potentials of Eco-tourism in Majuli.

3. Methodology
The study is based on both primary and secondary data. Integration has been done with experienced people and private agencies of Majuli. Historic background of the ecological, geomorphologic aspects has been studied here. Three types of works have been done have-(a) descriptive (b) qualitative(c) quantitative. The information stated in this study work has been collected from different books and journals and also different official and non-official sources.

4. Discussion of the Study
The geomorphological setting, the natural environment and the bio-diversity of a particular region exert considerable influences on the nature and the development of its socio-cultural landscape. Majuli, the largest fresh-water inhabited river island in the world has an incomparable location. As geomorphology or physiography is related to the human environment, the mighty river Brahmaputra and its surroundings have extensive impact on the lives of the people living in the island. Moreover, this island is one of the richest bio-diversity areas of the north-east India. This island is very rich in wild plant and animal resources and of course there is a tremendous diversity in the uses of these flora and fauna.

Majuli represents an example of pollution-free environment with a pleasant climate of wetlands and riverine surroundings. The soil composition made of sediments brought through the network of the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries around the island is also a unique one. This unique riverine rich bio-diversity is based on the aquatic as well as non-aquatic flora and fauna composition.

Bio-diversity exists at three different levels namely Species Bio-diversity, which can be reflected by morphological, physiological and genetic features; Genetic Bio-diversity, which comprises genetic or other variations within a species; and Eco-system Bio-diversity, which is reflected in diverse bio-geographic zones, such as in the lakes or in the deserts or in the coasts or in the estuaries etc. Now the conservation of these eco-systems is a major challenge. For convenience, though it is considered as a distinct entity, an eco-systemic an area in which the inputs and the outputs can be studied across its boundaries. The boundary of an eco-system is not strictly demarked able or in other word it is not strictly isolated.

A major part of the island is covered with the tribal communities. They are almost completely depends upon the local flora and fauna in their day-to-day life till now. The island is one of the richest bio-diversity hotspot in the North-Eastern region of India. The floristic composition of the island includes three types of flora, i.e. herbs, shrubs and trees. Similarly the faunal composition includes amphibians, avian, mammals and fishes.

In Majuli about 331 numbers of flora species are found and most of them have medicinal value also. The inhabitants of the island have established an indispensable association with plant lives of the island and have identified themselves as part or a member of the plant kingdom. The wide expanses of water surroundings and a number of marshlands and wetlands like beel, dubi etc. of the island have made it the land of a social wetland bio-diversity among many a places of the NE India. Besides these, the island has an eco-friendly environment also; Majuli Island is one of the safest habitats of the local and migratory birds. The island is regarded as a suitable and secure place for the wide variety of birds for its pleasant environment. Besides the migratory birds like Siberian ducks and cranes etc. the local flocks of fishing birds in different parts of the island offer a unique scene in all the water bodies of Majuli.

The specific aims and objectives of eco-tourism originally signified travelling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated areas with the specific objective of studying, admiring or enjoying the scenery; its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural manifestations founds in these areas. According to international union for the conservation of Nature-Eco-Tourism as being an environmentally responsible travel and visitation to reality undisturbed natural areas in order to enjoy and appreciate nature and any accompanying cultural features both past and present; has low visitor impact; and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations.

The distinguishing feature of eco-tourism is that it emphasizes the ecological fragility, carrying capacity and bio-diversity conservation of the reign, while acting as a liaison between local communities and the tourism industry. These, eco-tourism has two broad dimensions of preservation and promotion. It can also be described as a sub-category of sustainable tourism, or a part of the nature tourism market.
It is noteworthy to be mentioned here that the flora and fauna stock can be summarized as shown in Table-1.


5. Major Findings  
The major findings of the research work are as follows:
  • Most of the herbs have medicinal value.
  • Due to eco-friendly environment, Majuli Island is the safest heaven of wide varieties of both local and migratory birds. Migratory birds come in large number to the island during winter season from different countries like Siberia (especially duck and crane).
  • Majuli is capable of capturing the heart of the visitors.
  • Majuli represents an example of pollution free environment with a pleasant climate wetlands and riverine surroundings.
  • It is observed that since the creation of the island the mighty Brahmaputra along with its tributaries and the wetlands have turned it into a bio-diversity hotspot.
  • It is also observed that couple of years both country and foreign visitors enjoy the unique scenery and culture of the island.
  • Most of the beels and riverside are free of innumerable local and migratory birds.
  • The number of eco-lodges are not significant except one is on bank of Lohit river and Chitadarchuk, other in Kerelagaon and another in Jengraimukh. Besides tourists used Satras guest houses.

6. Policy Implication and Conclusion
An in-depth study of the bio-diversity and eco-tourism in Majuli island though the inductive, empirical method ultimately reach the researcher to conclude the work with the following suggestions –
  • The stunning island is enriched by ornamental plants, orchids and medicinal plants. So it should be conserved.
  • The pilgrimage tourism should be preserved properly.
  • Introducing buffalo safari in different chapories for foreigners.
  • There is an enough scope for exiting river adventure by country boat.
  • All the beels and riverside developed for migratory bird colony.
  • The archeological heriatitage of human society of the primitive state, that is pottery industries of salmora and Chinatolly should be preserved through well management.
  • Assam tourism Deptt. Should take necessary action for build an ethnic village in the gateway of keamalabari river part is an ideal village to promote as tourist holiday village.
  • The river island is reserved with natural attracters, diverse culture and tradition, is the land of never ending curiosity and pleasure to the eco-tourist. Kamalabari. Garamur, Banariachaori, Jengraimukh etc are some model sites to launch an eco-tourist camp.
  • To press for declaring Majuli as a ‘Special Environmental Zone’ to conserve its vicinity and natural beauty.
  • To draw adequate ‘Awareness Campaign’ for the presentation of natural and cultural heritage both internally and externally.
  • Inclusion of Majuli in the ‘National Tourism Network’ essentially, specially emphasize on Eco-tourism.
  • Proper registration should be maintained for all types visit in Majuli.
  • Although Majuli has immense potentiality for tourism development, only a small portion of it has been identified and developed so far. It is due to lack of proper survey and necessary initiatives. The natural splendor of the islets innumerable local and migratory birds, lyrical folk songs from the country side and the unique scenery of beautiful golden yellow sun beings to sink in the waves of the magnificent Brahmaputra River enriched the scope of Eco-Tourism in Majuli.

7. References
R. Chandra. Recent Trends n World Tourism, New Delhi: Akansha Publising House, 2006.

A.K. Bhatia. Tourism Development Principles and Practices, New Delhi: Sterling Publishing Pvt. Ltd., 2003.

S. Bora and M.C. Bora. The Story of Tourism, An Enchanting Joureney Though India’s North-East, New Delhi: USB Publishers Distributors Pvt. Ltd., 2001.

P. Saikia, A. Hazarika and P. Bora (2012) “Bio-Diversity of the Majuli Island –A Critical Analysis,” (Seminar Paper).

Dr. D. Saikia. ‘Bimrisha’, (Edited) ,ACTA, Majuli Zone, 2012.

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