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Tragopan Sanctuary hosts village elders from Meghalaya

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A group of 14 village elders from five villages of Malai Sohmat Himaship in West Khasi Hills of Meghalaya are said to have visited the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary as part of a project to learn about conservation efforts.

Dimapur, Nov. 8 (EMN): The Climate Change Adaptation North Eastern Region Project is said to have organized a two-day “exposure visit” for a number of village elders from Meghalaya. The tour was during November 6-7, to the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS) for a group of 14 village elders from five villages of Malai Sohmat Himaship in West Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, a press release that was issued on Thursday informed.
The organisers informed in a press release that the project is currently being implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in the states of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Sikkim, under the aegis of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region.
The initiative, the organisers said, is part of the effort of five villages of Malai Sohmat Himaship to initiate a conservation movement aimed at conserving the natural habitat of the Hillock Gibbon found within their village boundaries.
The objective of the visit was to expose the village elders of Malai Sohmat to the various initiatives being undertaken by the KNCTS in its effort to declare a huge tract of forest as a community managed wildlife sanctuary. This is envisaged to encourage village institutions in Malai Sohmat to put into place similar strategies and guidelines to promote conservation of natural habitat of the Hillock Gibbon.
Tsilie Sakhrie, advisor to the conservation organisation, spoke about the various challenges the KNCTS faced during its initial efforts to bring together the various sections of the community to agree on the need to restrict hunting and collection of resources from the forest.
The updates also stated that the chairman of the Trust, Khriekhoto Mor informed the gathering that in the year 1998, the Khonoma Village Council declared its intention to ‘notify’ about 2000 ha (20 sq km) as the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary.
“This came about after three years of concerted effort on the part of the many village elders, through extensive discussions in the village,” the press release stated. “He also made mention that some years ago the Government of India recognised the potential of the village to organise itself, and granted it a substantial Green Village fund through the Tourism department of the state government. The money is being used to provide basic civic amenities and hygiene measures, reinforce community infrastructure, and prepare the village to receive and show visitors it’s past and present.”
Noted social worker and peace activist Niketu Iralu also spoke about the various initiatives that were undertaken prior to the formal declaration of the Khonoma community-managed sanctuary, the press release stated. The sanctuary ‘focused on the need to foster peace and understanding amongst the various factions within Khonoma, a much needed prerequisite required for binding the community together.’
“First deal with the selfishness and buried resentments against one another that a village too easily allows to take over, than creative cooperation becomes possible”, Iralu was quoted in the press release as having said.
Niketu informed the gathering that many too often we talk of the crisis of the environment, of destruction of forests, wild life, water and other critical resources for mankind’s survival.
“But if we will care enough to stop and examine what is really going on, the uncomfortable truth is that we human beings are causing the crisis! This was the case of Khonoma wherein the Khonoma Public Commission created at the behest of the village elders several years back to stop the rapid destruction of the priceless heritage of the virgin forest expanse of the Japfu-Dzuku ecosystem discovered that we needed to first cooperate to bring healing and forgiveness of one another for the killings that had taken place during the height of the Naga struggle and destroyed the inter-clan relationships that had sustained the village for generations.”
After almost a decade of thoroughly transparent examination of what had happened and the Commission with the help of the churches enabled the families on both sides of the killings to complete together a process of “forgiving and being forgiven.”
After that the establishment of the wildlife conservation project, the updates explained, the resolution to ban felling timber for sale to the saw mills in Dimapur, etc, became possible. A proposal to expose the present community of Khonoma to the concept of sacred groves of Meghalaya and learning the art of constructing living root bridges was strongly mooted by Iralu, the press release stated.
The press release also mentioned Supong Aier, chief conservator of Forest, as having expressed appreciation to the “excellent work done by the Trust which is often cited as an excellent community led conservation initiative at many state, national and International fora.” Suggestion to encourage nature education for schools, documentation of the flora and fauna was offered too, it was informed.
Kenneth M Pala, senior advisor and regional coordinator of GIZ, also spoke about the various benefits of conservation, both at the community, household and individual level through promotion of ecotourism.
“He stressed upon the need to take on board all section of the community in conservation initiatives and laid emphasis on the urgency to create a better understanding at the community level on the guiding principles of sustainable tourism which are often ignored in the mad rush for quick benefits,’ the press release stated.
Besides the series of interaction and in-depth discussions, the organisers informed, the group were taken for a ‘village walk around Khonoma village, a trek to the alder farms and visit to Dzüleke. “The keenness of the visitors from West Khasi Hills to initiate a similar strategy for conservation was well appreciated by the members of the KNCTS,” the press release added.

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  • Published: 5 months ago on November 9, 2018
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  • Last Modified: November 9, 2018 @ 1:03 am
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