Deer roam free in once poachers' den

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  • Published 13.06.13

Jorhat, June 12: The sight of a herd of deer grazing on the fringes of D. Ering Memorial wildlife sanctuary in Arun-achal Pradesh came as a pleasant surprise to Union minister of state for minority affairs, Ninong Ering, on Monday.

This was something unseen till a year back in Arunachal Pradesh, especially near a sanctuary, which has notoriety for poaching. “A herd of deer grazing placidly that too on the fringe area of D. Ering sanctuary which was a haven for poachers till a few years back, is one of the rare sights in Arunachal Pradesh,” Ering told this correspondent.

Ering, son of Daying Ering, the architect of modern Arunachal Pradesh in whose memory the sanctuary has been named, said he had visited the sanctuary several times earlier but this was the first time he spotted a herd of deer and that, too, on the fringe area of the park.

The minister said since the sanctuary has turned out to be one of the best-protected wildlife habitats in Arunachal Pradesh, the government is planning to develop it into a major tourist destination on the lines of Kaziranga National Park in Assam.

“If it is Kaziranga in Assam, it would be D. Ering in Arunachal Pradesh,” Ering said, adding that Arunachal Pradesh has two national parks and eight wildlife sanctuaries and D. Ering has turned out to be the best wildlife habitat in recent times.

Till a couple of years back, the 190-square km sanctuary in East Siang district was a haven for poachers spurred by the belief that no person who entered the sanctuary for hunting went back empty-handed.

“Things have changed today and this could be gauged from the fact that deer were sighted grazing outside the sanctuary without any fear. Wildlife is thriving well inside the sanctuary,” Ering said.

The success story of the sanctuary was the fact that the villagers, mostly of Adi community, staying near the sanctuary, have given up hunting and joined hands with the forest department in the conservation efforts.

“Several villagers have deposited arms and ammunition used for hunting,” said Tashi Mize, divisional forest officer, Pasighat, and administrative head of the sanctuary. The development boosted the morale of the forest department which has already taken up necessary steps to develop the infrastructure of the sanctuary and proposals have been sent to the authorities concerned.

“I will donate a speed boat very soon to add teeth to the security,” Ering said.

Mize said watersport would be introduced in the Siang and Sibea rivers which criss-cross the sanctuary.

Ering said for a start, the sanctuary would host a bird-watching festival in November-December when hundreds of migratory birds flock from different part of the world to the sanctuary. “The bird-watching festival would be the first step to attract tourists to the sanctuary which is rich in wildlife,” he said. The park is famous for Bengal florican and hornbills. The wildlife sanctuary is also home to Royal Bengal tigers, leopards, several species of deer, Gangetic dolphins and wild buffaloes.