| Residents of Thingpui Laimanai take part in the rally on Thursday. Telegraph picture |
Imphal, June 5: Residents of a small village in Manipur’s Churachandpur district today took the lead in conserving wildlife and forest cover pledged by pledging not to kill wild animals and birds and to stop rampant felling of trees.
“We take the pledge not to kill animals and birds from this day which is observed as World Environment Day,” each of the 100 villagers pledged, led by village headman Dh. Gachung, in a small programme at their village, Thingpui Laimanai, 38km south of Imphal. It is the first village in Manipur to take such a pledge.
The villagers’ commitment to conserve nature is the result of efforts made mainly by the state forest department and the Manipur chapter of the Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN).
Thingpui Laimanai is a Kabui (Naga) village having a population of barely 150. It is located at the foothills of the Thanging hill range, which is home to a wide range of wildlife.
The village, spread across 50 square km of virgin forest, is known to be home to many species of wild animals and birds, including leopards, bush koels, cats, deer and flying squirrels. It recently reported sighting of a jungle koel — a species no more found in Manipur.
The deputy forest conservator in-charge of park and sanctuary, L. Joykumar Singh, who was present on the occasion, said no survey had ever been conducted in this forest area but one would be conducted soon to make a list of animal and bird species.
The villagers, all Christians, have a tradition of not hunting and poaching. They expressed concerned over “killings” by poachers and hunters from nearby villages.
“The main idea of today’s oath-taking was to send out the message to others that poaching is banned in our village,” said Dh. Manglemba George, son of the village headman and a teacher.
The village was one of the battlefields during World War II and the villagers fled during the Naga-Kuki skirmishes in 1993. Some of the scattered villagers returned and re-established the village in 2000.
State coordinator of IBCN R.K. Birjit claimed this was the first village to take the pledge to conserve nature in the Northeast .
“Today’s pledge will inspire other villages and we hope that more will follow suit. We are ready to fully support all efforts to declare the village’s forest a community reserve forest,” Joykumar Singh said.
The move was welcomed by the state forest department as forest cover depletes every year in Manipur.
Records maintained by the department said Manipur had lost 190 square km of forest between 2009 and 2011.
After the “oath-taking”, villagers took out a rally along the village road, shouting slogans like “Let’s stop killing animals” and “Let’s stop felling trees.”