The largest river island in the world, Majuli, may disappear. Over the last 70 years, Majuli has shrunk by more than half and there are concerns it will be submerged in the next 20 years. The island is under constant threat due to the extensive soil erosion on its banks. The reason for this is thought to be the large embankments built in towns up the Brahmaputra river to protect them during the monsoon season which redirect the devastating fury of the river to the islet. Since 1991, over 35 villages have been washed away. And while Indian authorities are trying to figure out how to save the island, its life may have even been shorter if it wasn’t for one local environmental activist.
In 1979, Jadav Payeng, then 16, encountered a large number of snakes that had died due to excessive heat after floods washed them onto the tree-less sandbar. Then and there, Jadav made it his life’s mission to save Majuli from erosion by planting trees. Working tirelessly every day, he has planted 550 hectares of forest – larger than Central Park in New York City (340 hectares). That forest is now home to Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros, and even a herd of over 100 elephants regularly visit it every year. Continue scrolling to learn more about this capeless hero.
Image credits: William D McMaster