Tucked in between Bangladesh in the west and Myanmar in the east and bordered by Tripura, Assam and Manipur on the north lies the land locked north-eastern Indian State of Mizoram. Encompassing 21,087 sq kms of variegated hilly terrain Mizoram is part of the " Mizoram-Manipur-Kachin Rain Forests" eco-region which is reported to have the highest bird species richness of all eco-regions in the Indo-Pacific region. The area is dominated by steep hills, deep gorges and dissected landscapes with the average height being 900 meters. The hill ranges were created 40 to 50 million years ago when the Laurasian mainland met the northward-drifting Deccan Plateau. These mountains are a bio-geographic crossroads for the Indian, Indo-Malayan, and Indo-Chinese biotas (Rodgers & Panwar 1988) and are characterized by high biological diversity.
The area is fed by high rainfall which exceed 2755 mm annually. The climate, terrain and heavy precipitation has resulted in a landscape rich in semi-evergreen forests that cover more than 80% of Mizoram. Per Champion and Seth the forests of Mizoram can be classified as:
1. Tropical Wet Evergreen: Found in the southern and western parts of the state. Common tree species include Syzigium cuminii, Artocarpus chaplasha, Michelia champaca, Dipterocarpus turbinatus, Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Melocanna baccifera and Bambusa species.
2. Tropical Semi-evergreen: 50% of the area is covered by this type of forest and key tree species here include Gmelina arborea, Phoebe attenauta, Syzigium cuminii, Albizia chinensis, Albizia procera, Sapium baccatum, Schima wallichii, Castanopsis tribulidies, Styrax polyspermum, Melocanna baccifera and Dendrocalamus species.
3. Sub-tropical Hill: This type is found on the eastern side bordering Myanmar and cover 25% of the geographical area. Myrica esculenta, Rhododendron arboreum, Pinus kesiya, Lithocarpus dealbata, Quercus griffithii, Q. serrata, Arundinaria callos, Chimonobambusa khasiana, Dendrocalamus sikkimensis, D. giganteus, Melocanna baccifera and Meocalamus compactiflorus. Many epiphytic orchids are found in this area.
But whatever be the forest types in theory, in practice Mizoram is all about bamboo - and miles and miles of it. Shifting "Jhum" cultivation, uncontrolled fires and widespread unregulated felling has turned most of Mizoram into a "Bamboo Wasteland" where every inch almost is covered by young bamboo waiting to be felled in the next jhum cycle. Mizoram has 20 species of bamboo and one species Melocanna baccifera dominates with more than 75% of the area under bamboo vegetation being under this species. Other key bamboo species include Dendrocalamus longispathus and Oxytenanthera parreifollia.
Mrs Hume's Pheasant, State bird of Mizoram (Image source: Wiki)
The forest of Mizoram hold many threatened animal species including the Tiger, Asian Elephant, Clouded Leopard, Gaur, Goral, Hoolock Gibbon, Stump-tailed Macaque, Binturong and many others. But the area is also justly as famous for its birds with some great rarities to be found only here in India. Mrs Hume's Pheasant (State bird), Blyth's Tragopan, Green Peafowl(?), White-cheeked Partridge, Blyth's Kingfisher, Blue Pitta, Moustached, Striped, Rufous-vented, Brown-capped and Spot-breasted Laughingthrushes, Crested Finchbill, Olive and Flavescent Bulbuls, Oriental Hobby, Wedge-billed Wren-babbler and Purple-throated Sunbird are just some of the species that can be found in the area.
Blue Rock Thrush
How to reach
Lengpui Airport, 40 kms from Aizwal city, capital of the State of Mizoram is connected by daily flights from Kolkata. There are also flights from Guwahati and Imphal on certain days of the week. Aizwal city is also connected by road from Silchar, Assam along National Highway 54, a journey which takes 6 hours.
Dampa Tiger Reserve is 127 kms over good but twisting roads from Aizwal and 90 kms from Lengpui via West Phaileng. Journey from Aizwal takes about 3-4 hours.
Where to stay
Dampa Tiger Reserve
Inside Dampa Tiger Reserve: Forest Department accommodation at Teirei, Phuldungsei, Damparengpui. Food arrangements have to be made by visitors themselves.
Contact for booking and further information:
The Field Director
Dampa Tiger Reserve
Aizwal City: Govt. of Mizoram Tourist Lodge
Domestic Tourists: Inner Line Permit is required from any of the Liaison Officers posted in Mizoram House at various places.
Foreign Tourists: For a group of 4 members or more, Restricted Area Permit (RAP) can be obtained from the Resident Commissioner, Mizoram House, New Delhi. Otherwise, permit is to be obtained from Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi
Latitude - 21° 58' & 24° 35' N
Longitude - 92° 15' & 93° 29' E
Area: 21,087 Sq. Kms
People: Mizoram is the land of the Mizos or the Highlanders who belong to the Mongoloid race. The Mizos are divided into several sub-tribes, viz. Luseis, Lais, Maras, Kukis etc. , each of which have their own customs, social practices and dialects enriching the tribal cultural heritage of the state.
Best Season: November to March