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Arunachal Pradesh Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary
The Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most exquisite protected regions in Northeastern India. Located in the Lower Dibang region of Arunachal Pradesh, the Mehao Sanctuary covers around 281 sq km of valley, mountain, river and lakes. The area of the sanctuary constitutes five rivers, Deopani, Ashupani Enjopani, Dipuh and Jowe; all of these are perennial and major tributaries to the Brahmaputra River. The altitude of this area varies vastly from a mere 400 m to a staggering 3568 m above the sea level.
Such geographical qualities have created a highly bio-diverse environment in this region that compelled the authorities to safeguard it. The Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary is not only a favorite among tourists and nature enthusiasts, but also is a garden of knowledge for scientists and researchers due to the dense variety in flora and fauna in such a small area. The region is also home to multiple ecologies and several of the highly endangered species call this sanctuary their home. The Mehao region is also the ancestral home to some local and unique tribes, who use to the forests to sustain their traditional lifestyles.
The Mehao Lake is an accidental lake at a height of 1640 m in the Sanctuary, from which it derives its name as the Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary was created during the earthquake of 15 August 1950, spans about 4 sq km.
The Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary was created in 1980 and recently it was proposed that some 55-odd sq km be de-notified.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
The climate of Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary is as variant as the altitude and landscape. The summers are tropical in the lower parts and cooler as the altitudes rise. The monsoon rains are heavy and almost constant at times. Winter also has cool foothills and heavy snowfall in the upper reaches. The best time to visit Mehao would be during summer and winter, starting from November to May; monsoons make the region virtually inaccessible.
How to Reach
The closest airport is at Diburghar (113 km) in Assam, which is well connected to New Delhi, Kolkata and other domestic airports in the northeast; from there one must reach Roing in the Lower Dibang Valley, Arunachal Pradesh. The civil helicopter service called Pavan Hans shuttles between Itanagar and Roing.
Tinsukia (113 km) is the nearest railway station to Roing and is well connected to the surrounding states like West Bengal.
Roadways are the only way to access the Mehong Wildlife Sanctuary (Apart from the helicopter service) and there are good roads with regular bus services from the nearby major town, into Roing, from where Mehong is only 15 km.
Some of the officially recorded bird species are Goosander, Godwall, Himalayan Pied Kingfisher, Temmink’s Tragopen, Japanese Awfinch, Silvereared Mesia, Tibeten Greybacked Shrike, Great Pied Hornbill, Large Racket-tailed Drongo, Spotted Short Tailed Wrenbabbler and others totaling over 200 species of rare and common birds.
There is a large variety of poisonous and non-poisonous snakes in Mehao, not all are recorded comprehensively. Some of the known species are, Cobra Naja Naja, Black Krait, Reticulate Python, Himalayan Cat Snake and Stripedracer.
There are numerous species of mammals living in various ecosystems separated by altitude. Species of Tiger, Clouded Leopard, Fishing Cat, Spotted Linsang, Yellow Bellied Weasel, Himalayan Black Bear, India Elephant, Barking Deer, etc. are found in the foothills. In the higher altitudes we have, Red Panda, Snow Leopard, Musk Deer, Mishmi Takin, etc.
The Mehao Sanctuary has a notable 232 known species of butterflies and some of them are, Chocolate Albatross, Glassy Bluebottle, Yellow Helen, Paris Peacock, etc.
A visit to Mehao Sanctuary implies a long trek to the Mehao Lake. Thereafter, the rest of the sanctuary is easily scalable by the excellent mountain roads.
Where to Stay
There are affordable and suitable options in Roing, from private luxury hotels to government managed circuit houses.
- It is essential for tourists to acquire an Inner Line Permit, without which they will not be allowed into Arunachal Pradesh.
- The entry into the Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary, is granted by the Divisional Forest Office in Roing.