Arunachal?s green brigade
Sitting in beautiful Arunachal Pradesh, surrounded by cattle, including the local Mithun, one can?t help but see how cows are as much a problem for residents here as they are for Delhiites.
Sitting in beautiful Arunachal Pradesh, surrounded by cattle, including the local Mithun, one can't help but see how cows are as much a problem for residents here as they are for Delhiites.
Cattle can often lead to dispute, compensation and conflict when they break into neighbouring farms and eat up its produce. To avoid this, villages fence their boundaries with locally available bamboo. But that is not a simple act. They actually hold an annual fencing festival that forces village families to work in partnerships.
Fences are put up again and again but the community bonds as people work as a team. The point of interest here is how societies organise themselves to effect improvement in their lives. Many local environmental problems are addressed when communities are able to come together and optimise their resources.
Here, an older tradition, reinforcing just that, is greatly relevant today, when conflict over resources is destroying the environment. Delhi's bhagidari system has just won the UN Development Programme Public Service Award. But here in Arunachal, a much older traditional bhagidari quietly flourishes. It's the green brigade we don't hear of.
Arunachal Pradesh could well have been named Punjab. It is also the land of five rivers — Siang, Lohit, Subansiri, Kameng and Tirap, which converge as the Brahmaputra. The ecology of the state is therefore unique.
The D. Ering Sanctuary, for example, offers hidden delights. Its grasslands are home to the endangered Bengal Florican, relatively easy to sight in the pre-monsoon grass. Deeper inside, rangers estimate there are about five tigers. There is a lot of illegal hunting but rangers don't fear for the tiger here because some dominant tribes see the big cat as their ancestor.
In fact, in these communities, if a tiger is killed, the hunter is ostracised and must live alone for a prescribed period, wearing only red clothing. Though D. Ering is not under Project Tiger, Namdhapa National Park is.
Its tiger population has not drastically fallen as in other places despite being so close to China, a major market for tiger products. Maybe that is why it hasn't hit the headlines and receives little funds.
(If you feel for planet earth, write in to firstname.lastname@example.org)
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