|Illustration by Omkar Bhattacharya
Jorhat, Sept. 27: Matmur Jamoh and Tani Talop would never have imagined that killing a wild boar or a deer would create any ripples in a land where hunting has been a tradition.
By the time they realised that the times were changing, it was too late.
Yesterday, the authorities of Yagrung village in East Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh held the duo guilty of hunting and decided to penalise them. The penalty is yet to be decided, but it could go as high as Rs 5,000 each.
“This is a giant leap in our efforts to conserve wildlife in the state. If the villagers take such initiatives, very soon Arunachal Pradesh would be a success story as far as conservation is concerned,” John Apum, a member of the state wildlife board, told The Telegraph.
Apum, along with senior forest officials, attended the meeting held at Yagrung village — to which the guilty belong — where the verdict and sentence was announced by Tanup Jerang, the village chief.
Yagrung village, an Adi community settlement, is nearly 15km from D’Ering wildlife sanctuary and hunting has been the trend for decades.
However, initiatives taken by the forest department by holding awareness meetings recently have resulted in a change in the mindset of the villagers.
Deputy conservator of forests, P. Ringu, told The Telegraph from Itanagar that the villagers in Arunachal Pradesh were gradually becoming aware of the importance of wildlife.
“Villagers residing near Pakke tiger reserve have been taking such initiatives for the past couple of years,” he said.
The authorities of D’Ering sanctuary, which was a haven for poachers and timber smugglers till a few years ago, have taken the help of the Adi Baane Kebang, the apex body of the Adi community. The kebang has issued directives to its people living near the sanctuary to give up hunting or face ostracism.
The initiative by the Kebang appears to have borne fruit, with hunting coming down drastically in the sanctuary famous for not only its Bengal florican and hornbills but also for tigers, sambars, Gangetic dolphins and wild buffaloes.
Tashi Mize, divisional forest officer, Pasighat, and administrative head of D’Ering sanctuary, who also attended the meeting at Yagrung village yesterday, said the two guilty persons had shot dead the wild boar and the deer in a forest area near the village in the first week of this month.
“The Adi Baane Kabeng has taken the initiative to penalise the two villagers,” he added.
Chiefs of at least 12 villages near Yagrung had also attended the meeting where the forest officials spoke about the importance of wildlife conservation and various penalties for those guilty of killing wildlife under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Oman Jamoh Boko, the chairman of the women’s wing of the Adi Baane Kebang, who also attended the meeting, said the villagers were slowly but surely appreciating the importance of wildlife conservation. “We are also trying to involve women in our conservation efforts,” she said.