Namdapha came under Project Tiger in 1983 and derives its name from a river that flows through this area. It spreads over 1,985 sq. kms with a core area of 1,808 sq.kms. The entire area is under the unitary control of the field director. Located at the confluence of three biotic provinces, the Himalayan Highlands, Bengal rain forests, and Burmese monsoon forests the area has a high bio-diversity along with an array of endemic forms. Altitudinal diversity is high from 200 msl to 4,500 msl, moving from riverine grasslands to sub-alpine and alpine vegetation.
The reserve is remote, inacessible, hilly with difficult terrain and a high rainfall of 2,800 mm. These factors prevent biotic pressures on the core and sustain the excellent vegetation. This is also one of India's biosphere reserves and detailed studies have been done in areas that are accessible in an effort to document the living organisms that are so varied under this incredible umbrella. 73 species of lichens, 59 Bryophytes, 112 Pteridoplytes, 5 Gymosperms, 801 angiosperms are only a few of the species recorded, in 60% of the area of this reserve.
Under the umbrella of this forest live threatened, rare and endangered species and 2 new genera, 4 new species and 14 new distributional records have been recorded. There is a high level of endemism. Pinus merkusii and Abier delavavi are found only here in India. Mishmi tita used for medicine, is also found here.
It is the only reserve in India that is home to four of the large cats, tiger, leopard, clouded leopard and snow leopard. There are 96 species of mammals out of which 29 species are on schedule I of the Wildlife Act. A new species the Namdapha flying squirrel was discovered for the first time in 1983, so far 350 species of birds have been recorded. 14 beetles, 5 mollusks, 5 fish, and 3 amphibians are some of the never ending species recorded so far.
After Project Tiger various infrastructures have developed including wireless communication for better management and protection. A small museum and interpretation centre reveals the story of man and forest. There are only 54 kms of roads in the area. Research activities still have to gather a momentum but it is hoped that this rich biodiversity will soon attract serious research. It is through such in-depth studies of threatened endemic flora and fauna that ways will be found to preserve this unique biosphere into the future. There were said to be 29 tigers in 1979 and present estimates indicate a number of 49. Other population estimates have not been done. The area caters to very few tourists. The local tribals hunt on traditional and ceremonial occasions, but not on an excessive scale. There are however incidents of commercial poaching on the lndo-Burmese border. The Chakma tribals tend to live in harmony with the forest. There are a few habitations on the northern and eastern boundary of the reserve which could pose a threat in the future in terms of biotic pressure. Eco-developments measures are being initiated in these areas, so as to reduce the serious nibbling that occurs and causes damage to this habitat.
The staff has not been trained in wildlife management and this is vital for a commitment and dedication especially since this is one of the most unique habitats of the tiger.
Though there are no extremists, frequent patrolling of the army in search of possible insurgents occurs and could be a cause of concern in the future.
Namdapha is very special not only for India but the entire planet. A vital facet of its future concerns research and through this mankind will find answers to disease, infections and sickness. But this seems to be an umbrella of nature that is still magical. We must ensure that it remains that way.