A forest in a river? Yes, that’s right. Jadav Payeng of Assam has single-handedly created a forest on the 550-hectare sandbar in the middle of the Brahmaputra River, near Guwahati. The place is 350km away in Jorhat and you need to take a ferry and then walk to reach the man who created this home for five tigers!

The area is named after Payeng’s pet name – Molai, “Molai Kathoni”. In 1979, after a flood washed ashore reptiles, Molai saw them perish one by one, on the shadeless sandbar. The authorities did nothing to help – this triggered the then 16-year-old Molai to grow bamboo and trees on the island to provide shelter for animals.

Now 47, and after 30 years of hard work he can vouch for tigers, one-horned rhinos, apes, birds and deer in the forest. Many varieties of flora are found there, too. Locals and forest officials are equally amazed that anything at all grew on the sandbar. A 100-member herd of elephants regularly visit the forest every year and stay for around six months. They also gave birth to 10 calves in the forest in recent times.