East Himalaya

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Hornbill Headgears

One country 02 states, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. One river 02 names, Kameng and Jia Bhareli. One continuous habitat 02 Tiger Reserves, Pakke and Nameri. One language spoken by 16 different communities. This is the language of ‘conservation’ spoken by 16 different communities living around Pakke and Nameri Tiger Reserves at the recently completed ‘Pakke-Nameri Conservation and Peace Carnival’, from Pakke Jungle Camp at Seijosa in East Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh to Ban Theatre in Tezpur in Assam.

Imagine who took the initiative, the Nyishi community Gaon Burras. The Nyishis and conservation, the ones who wear Hornbill beak headgears, everyone laughed at us as if we were joking. Community conservation at Pakke Tiger Reserve, initiated by the DFO, Tana Tapi, ADCF, now Field Director, along with some National Wildlife NGOs by getting together the Nyishi Gao Burhas (Village Heads) into an organization called Ghora Abhe Society, who in turn organized locally led conservation by their community to save this extraordinary Tiger Habitat. Help Tourism was invited here to boost the process and they added community based ecotourism infrastructure to the initiative, ‘the Pakke Jungle Camp’.

The dynamics were perfect, but in isolation. The work of Ghora Abhe Society was being appreciated nationally and internationally, but there was hardly any news or awareness or initiative locally in the neighbourhood. The 02 partners in ecotourism, Ghora Abhe and Help Tourism sat with the Field Director of Pakke Tiger Reserve and discussed that it will be impossible to sustain conservation if the similar dynamics is not set in continuing Nameri Tiger Reserve. The several community leaders of different communities around Nameri Tiger Reserve were invited for a preliminary meeting to Pakke and convinced to participate in community based conservation. To do the first awareness program, a carnival for peace and conservation was planned. 
The once isolated community, Nyishis, fierce hunting community referred to as ‘Dafla’ by the neighbours in Assam, now took the responsibility to lead habitat conservation and wildlife protection in the region, infact they took the ownership on conservation. This is not strange, conservation was always in their gene, only that we cannot interpret this with our modern sense of conservation. They always lived as a part of nature, ate out nature, built shelter out of nature, got their clothing out of nature and lived the most sustainable lifestyle in isolation. We wanted to make them global, they appeared before the world in their hornbill headgears and we shouted that they were killing hornbills to make headgears. We often consider Hornbills to Tigers, as the king representative in their respective categories, birds and mammals. The Nyishis wear this as their headgear to show the world that they belong to an extremely diverse habitat, which they have lived with for time unknown and where hornbills are abundant. We have, through our greed destroyed these entire habitats and act as pro-conservation people from our un-natural homes and offices. The English could not make them a part of their industrial revolution and termed them TRIBALS. 

The time for us has come to be TRIBALS, to be a part of the natural system beyond borders, and not trying to exploit nature, each for our own selfish interest. If we have created some infrastructure, let us all blend it with the biodiversity forces locally and convert ourselves to the religion of BIODIVINITY. Come and train with the TRIBALS in their traditions. 

The support for the rally was provided in a big way at Tezpur by Nature’s Beckon, an Assam based NGO, pioneers in the field of community based conservation and presently extends hands to some Northeast states and West Bengal.  

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