Keibul-Lamjao (Loktak Lake) National Park
The only floating park in the world
The Keibul Lamjao National Park is a national park in the Bishnupur district of the state of Manipur in India. It is 40 km2 (15.4 sq mi) in area, the only floating park in the world, located in North East India, and an integral part of Loktak Lake.
The national park is characterized by many floating decomposed plant materials locally called phumdis. To preserve the natural refuge of the endangered Manipur Eld’s deer or brow-antlered deer (Cervus eldi eldi), or sangai also called the dancing deer, listed as an endangered species by IUCN, the park which was initially declared to be a sanctuary in 1966, was subsequently declared to be a national park in 1977 through a gazette notification. The act has generated local support and public awarenes
The brow-antlered deer, which was first discovered in Manipur in 1839 and named Cervus eldi eldi in 1844 in honour of Lt. Percy Eld – a British officer, was reported an extinct species in 1951. It was re–discovered in the Keibul Lamjao Park area by the environmentalist and photographer E.P.Gee, which necessitated declaring this reserve park area as a national park to protect and conserve the deer now called Eld’s deer’s subspecies brow-antlered deer (Cervus eldi eldi) or sangai in Manipuri language (to distinguish it from the other two sub species found in Burma and Thailand that are called Cervus eldii thamin and Cervus eldii siamensis and also in Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Hianan island). It has a pride of place in the folklore and culture of the Manipur state and is the state animal of Manipur. From a small herd of 14 deer in 1975, its population was reportedly 155 in 1995.
The park is a swamp established by Mann Sharma with floating mass of vegetation created by accrual of organic garbage and biomass with soil particles that has been thickened into a solid form called phumdis, at the south–eastern side of the Loktak Lake, which has been declared a Ramsar site. Two third’s to three fourth’s of the total park area is formed by phumdis. A water way through the park provides year round access by boats plying through the Loktak Lake, to the Pabot Hill in the north. The reserve area of the park which was 4,000 ha (9,884.2 acres) in March 1997 was reduced to 2,160 ha (5,337.5 acres) in April 1988, under pressure from the local villagers. The swamp encompasses three hills, namely, Pabot, Toya and Chingjao that provide a refuge for the large mammals during the monsoon season. The distinctive nature of the park is that it is “too deep to be marsh, too shallow to be a lake”
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