|Animal lovers draped in banana leaves parade at the Sunday market in Sivasagar district where villagers had allegedly killed two leopard cubs on Saturday. Picture by UB Photos
Jorhat, Sept. 30: Two nature lovers of Sivasagar district adopted a novel method today to grab eyeballs and enlighten villagers about the importance of protecting wildlife.
Romen Hatimuriah and Simanta Ranjan Bora, draped in banana leaves, paraded at the Sunday market, Kerai Ali Bazar, near Khoragarh Ghorachora village under Amguri police station in Sivasagar district, where villagers had allegedly killed two leopard cubs yesterday. The duo were followed by hundreds of supporters.
Though Khoragarh Ghorachora villagers claimed that dogs had killed the two female cubs, forest department sources alleged that the villagers themselves had killed the cubs to avenge the killing of a cow by the mother the previous day. The cubs had taken shelter in a bamboo clump in the village with their mother.
The villagers, it is alleged, not only killed the cubs but also hung the carcasses from a bamboo pole and put them up for display.
Hatimuriah, a renowned animal lover of the area, told The Telegraph over phone that it was high time people realised that “if we have to live, we have to allow the animals around us to live too. It was a horrifying incident. It is difficult to digest the fact that people can become so cruel that they can kill such beautiful animals.”
He said the banana leaves represented nature. “We live with and amidst nature.”
For several years now, Hatimuriah has also been running a small zoo at his residence at Holowguri village in Amguri that houses around 19 species of rare birds, seven animal species, including a black panther.
He said he had purchased the black panther cub for Rs 5,000 from Nagaland, where it was about to be killed by villagers for meat. “The forest department had approached me to hand over the cub, but I challenged them to stop killing of animals in the wild first and only then I would hand over the cub.”
The protesters took out the rally at 7am today, when the weekly market opened, and convinced the people not to harm wildlife. People from around 200 nearby villages gather at Kerai Ali Bazar on Sundays.
“We also started a signature campaign at the market place where a few hundred people signed and assured us that they would join our campaign to protect wildlife,” Bora, the brain behind the rally, said.
They also protested against the spurt in rhino poaching in and around Kaziranga National Park.
Bora, who the editor of a monthly magazine, Friends of Village, and is the secretary of an NGO by the same name, said unless the villagers were made aware of the importance of wild animals, such incidents would continue to occur.
“We selected the market since it is the business hub of more than 200 nearby villages. We received good response today and I am hopeful that we have achieved our goal of spreading awareness to some extent,” he said.
He said the NGO would soon launch a village-to-village awareness campaign with the help of the forest department.