Save Saleki and Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve and Rainforest from coal mining

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Saleki proposed reserve forest is under Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve and Dehing Patkai Rainforest - the largest rainforest of India. Referred to as the "Amazon of the East", this virgin forestland stretches for 937 square kilometers in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sivasagar districts in Assam.

Its biodiversity is very rich and unique.

There are 47 species of mammals, including 7 species of primates and 7 species of cats. Dehing Patkai has in fact the highest number of cat species in the world.

Hoolock gibbon, slow loris, Assamese macaque, stump-tailed macaque, capped langur, Asiatic elephant, royal Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, gaur, Chinese pangolin, Himalayan black bear, red giant flying 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, Dehing Patkai hosts about 359 different species of birds, including 4 species of hornbill and 8 species of kingfisher (including the very rare Blyth's kingfisher) and the state bird of Assam, white-winged wood duck, along with slender-billed vulture, greater adjutant, lesser adjutant, greater spotted eagle, beautiful nuthatch, yellow-vented warbler, broad-billed warbler, white-naped yuhina, white-cheeked partridge, Oriental darter, osprey, kalij pheasant, grey peacock pheasant, besra, black baza and hill myna.

More than 70 species of reptiles and amphibians are found here, like rock python, king cobra, Asian leaf turtle, monitor lizard and novelis flying lizard, second time recorded after 117 years in Soraipung.

Also the variety of flora is unparalleled. There are 94 major trees, including Hollong, the state tree of Assam; 300 species of plants, 110 species of orchids, including the state flower of Assam, foxtail orchid.

And it is not over: more than 310 different species of butterfly thrive in this beautiful and extraordinary ecosystem.

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 and other materials; effective ban of single use plastic in favor of natural solutions; organic farming; alternative energies to fossil fuels).