Unsteadily, we inch our way along the narrow trail on the edge of the mountain, peering cautiously over the edge in search of the elusive spot-breasted parrotbill (Paradoxornis guttaticollis). The parrotbills were spotted along this grassy hillside in Nagaland’s Zunheboto district just a couple of weeks ago by Angulie Meyase, Nagaland’s leading bird guide.
Rules are rules; we shall definitely fine the offenders. The village council has set the rules and we all need to obey the same. Other villages should realise that we have completely banned hunting and fishing in our area and our decision should be taken seriously by them” were the words from a youth belonging to Sema tribe of Sukhai village from Nagaland, after they had caught people from the neighbouring villages fishing in their river.
The last formal training as part of the GEF-Satoyama was held from 6th to 13th December. Sanjay Sondhi of Titli Trust along with Yatish Lele and Pia Sethi of TERI acted as the facilitators. Separate sessions were held with men and women and the differences between sustainable ecotourism and tourism were emphasized. AirBnB was requested to carry out follow up training. However, the need to maintain the community driven nature of the ecotourism initiative was emphasized. The bird list of the area was further augmented with interesting sightings including the Red billed Scimitar Babbler, Grey-headed parrotbll, Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Black eared Shrike Babbler, Black throated Sunbird.
The second assessment of the resilience workshop for SEPLS was undertaken in the project area to map the impact of the project on the landscape. The results of the first and second workshop were then compared to analyse the progress in the project. It was found that the degree of protection has increased since the first assessment with the formation of CCAs and banning of hunting and fishing in the village landscapes. The traditional knowledge about biodiversity which was earlier passed orally from generation to generation has now been documented and preserved for posterity through People’s Biodiversity Registers. While earlier there was no multi stakeholder platform to manage the natural resources of the area, the project has now set up the Tizu Valley Biodiversity Conservation and Livelihood Network (TBCLN) to manage the landscape for biodiversity conservation and ecotourism. Some community members have also profited by supplementary livelihood options through eco-tourism which was introduced through project. The assessment indicated that the project has helped improve the forests and the socio economic condition of the landscape.
The sustainability of the community conservation initiative in the three villages sponsored by GEF Satoyama via Conservation International is now quite evident from a biodiversity awareness festival that was independently organized by the Tizu Valley Network. Ivan Zhimomi of Sukhai village played a leadership role. Attending the awareness festival targeted at the youth were members of the Forest Department including the local District Forest Officer Mr Raj Kumar, the Wildlife Warden of Nagaland, Mr. Tokaho Kinimi, members of the Nagaland Tourism Association, including Mr David Angami, its President, a well known Naga bird guide Angulie Meyase, members of the NGO FES, a pebble artist Iboli Zhimo, etc. Members of Airbnb came for a training programme, kids were taken on nature walks, workshops were conducted, cultural activities held and folk songs dedicated to nature were sung. The students union of the three villages were present. The committees are now being declared as Biodiversity Management Committees under the Biological Diversity Act and the CCA area as Community Reserves under the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
In the last week of October, I found myself sitting under the stars by a roaring fire in Sukhai village, high in the forested hills of Nagaland’s Zunheboto district. With me sat one of my hosts, the square-built and charismatic Ivan Zhimoni, and Siddharth Edake of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi. For the first time in my life, I was an experimental eco-tourist. If the experiment worked, then it could be a game changer for Sukhai. It was already working for me.
Possibly a new range extension to India ! The moth species Krananda lucidaria Leech, 1897
Seen on 29 Sep 2017 at Khivikhu village in Zunheboto
Geographical range. W. and S. China, N. Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo. Vide MOB. Range extension to India?
-Following-credit to Sanjay Sondhi
The local community of Kivikhu surrendered their guns and laid them at the altar of the local church as a sign of their commitment to halt hunting and engage in conservation!
We spotted several exciting birds during our latest training programme in Nagaland (25-30 Sept). Six individuals of Naga wren-babbler were heard and sighted along the road leading from Sukhai to Ghukhuyi. Ranjan Das, a north-east photographer got some good shots. Other records of this Nagaland and Manipur endemic are largely from the Khonoma area. Binanda, a birding whiz kid of the north-east spotted a Hodgson’s Frogmouth on the road leading to the Tizu river on the 27th September, and our camera shutters clicked happily away. Most sightings have been from the Mishmi hills of Arunachal. Dark-rumped swifts and Great-eared nightjars gave our trip an added ‘fizz.’