Arunachal authorities and yobins clash over Namdapha deforestation

Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh is a vast swathe of evergreen Himalayan forest, home to elusive clouded leopards, majestic tigers, charismatic hornbills, mystical giant squirrels, enchanting butterflies and rare orchids. Covering some 1,900 square kilometers amidst snow-capped mountains, it is the third largest national park in India and is a biodiversity hotspot, home to more than 1,000 species of flowers and some 1,400 species of fauna. It is also considered one of the last great wastelands in Asia.

  • Namdapha National Park is the third largest national park in India and is home to thousands of species, including tigers, clouded leopards, and an endemic species of flying squirrel that has only been observed once by scientists.
  • Satellite data shows that deforestation has increased in the park over the last two decades.
  • Members of an indigenous group called the Yobin have been living in parts of the park for generations, but Yobin settlements are considered by park authorities to be “encroachments” and the main driver of deforestation and poaching in Namdapha National Park.
  • In recent months, at least eight Yobin settlements have been destroyed within the park.

Murali Krishna Chatakonda, a professor at the Amity Institute of Forestry and Wildlife, India, studies the issues of diversity, ecology and conservation of small mammals in the park. “Namdapha is home to some of the unique species [like the] Namdapha Gliding Squirrel, White-bellied Heron, Western Hoolock Gibbon, Tiger, Marbled Cat, Clouded Leopard, [and] red panda,” Chatakonda said. “The list is quite long.”