Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, Sep. 8: Nagaland is home to a variety of wildlife, and concerned individuals and conservationist groups have been taking progressive steps towards protecting many endangered species in the state.
Sixty-three-year-old Ruvuotuo Belho is one such wildlife protection enthusiast, with his very own ‘R Belho Wildlife Breeding Home’ in Kohima.
Belho’s wildlife breeding home, located at Gasie, below High School Junction in Kohima town, is a safe haven and sanctuary for many species of birds and wildlife ranging from porcupines to hornbills.
According to Belho, he started this home after a particularly stirring hunting trip. “One evening I went hunting around Dzü-ü River (north of Kohima) and managed to shoot a unique bird. As I returned, I felt very emotional. That was the last time I saw the species of that bird and so I decided not to hunt birds anymore. Instead, I began to rear birds and animals of all kinds,” he expressed in an interview with EastMojo.
“By 2002, I brought them (birds and animals) down to this place (R Belho Wildlife Breeding Home) and began to rear them. I still go hunting but now I go hunting—not with guns but with camera. So, I go hunting every year, especially towards Peren (district). I also believe that humans must begin to take care of animals,” he added.
Belho runs his sanctuary without any governmental aid and often ends up buying food for the animals on credit. He is currently housing 28 different types of wildlife including leopard cats, deer, Indian black turtles, hornbills and owls to name a few.
He also said that most of the residents in the area consider his home a ‘mini zoo’ as these creatures are caged. The deer habitat is surrounded by sheer boundary walls while the birds and other creatures live in gigantic cages, he added.
Belho further lamented that he was denied licence and aid by the government, citing that these birds and animals are caged. Despite the challenges, Belho wishes to continue catering to these creatures till his home completes 25 years; after which he wishes to donate them to the neighbouring states, especially to Assam.
He said that rapid urbanisation and development in the area has limited the space for the growing population of wildlife.
R Belho Wildlife Breeding Home attracts visitors mostly during the Hornbill Festival in December, as many tourists come to see the famed hornbills. Belho charges a nominal fee of INR 30 for adults in order to maintain the breeding home. However, he has kept it free for children and the ‘mini zoo’ is kept open on all Saturdays and Sundays.
Belho also expressed concern over the extinction of most birds and animals stating that, “Nagas, too, must care for them. That’s the most important thing as most of the birds and animals in our land are facing extinction.”