The Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve - of which Saleki is a part - is the largest rainforest of India. Referred to as the "Amazon of the East", this virgin forestland stretches for 575 square kilometers in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sivasagar districts in Assam.
Its biodiversity is very rich and unique.
Hoolock gibbon, slow loris, pig-tailed macaque, stump-tailed macaque, capped langur, Asian elephant, Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, gaur, Chinese pangolin, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan squirrel, leopard cat, clouded leopard, porcupine, crab eating mongoose, sambar, sun bear, binturong, barking deer, golden cat and marbled cat are just a few of the animal species living here.
Thanks to diversity of microhabitats, the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve hosts about 293 different species of birds, including slender-billed vulture, white-winged duck, greater adjutant, lesser adjutant, greater spotted eagle, beautiful nuthatch, marsh babbler, tawny-breasted wren-babbler, yellow-vented warbler, broad-billed warbler, white-naped yuhina, white-cheeked partridge, great hornbill, brown hornbill, Oriental darter and painted stork, osprey, kalij pheasant, grey peacock pheasant, besra, black baza and hill myna.
The most common reptiles found here are rock python, king cobra, Asian leaf turtle, monitor lizard.
And it is not over: 30 different species of butterfly thrive in this beautiful tropical vegetation and more than 100 species of orchids.
At the beginning of April 2020 the National Board for Wildlife of India has approved a coal mining project in the Saleki area of the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve, overlooking the fact that this is a Protected Area and that "should be conserved and protected from any destructive activities to ensure the country's ecological and environmental security".
We are urging the National Board for Wildlife, the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India, the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Assam to stop any current and future coal mining project in Saleki and the whole Dehing Patkai Elephant reserve.
Legal and illegal coal extraction is having and will have catastrophic consequences for the whole ecosystem of the region, people included.
The Dehing Patkai region is already threatened by high polluting industries, such as coal mines, oil refineries, gas drilling, affecting both the environment and the quality of life of people.
Deforestation, loss of biodiversity, adverse climate change affecting agriculture crops and resulting in economic downfall, loss of habitats for birds and animals with the consequent worsening of the already fragile relationship between humans and wildlife, air and water pollution, health hazards are just a few of the negative effects this exploitation will have. No growth nor tourism can develop from this wilful blindness.
It is now more evident than in the past that our survival is strictly connected to the one of the forests and our future relies only on the sustainable and green policies we initiate now (I.e. segregation of garbage and recycling plants for plastic, glass, paper; organic farming; alternative energies to fossil fuels).