Unique Hornbilll conservation project attracting foreign tourists to Arunachal
Naharlagun, Feb 1: The Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme (HNAP), a novel idea of Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Tana Tapi to conserve and protect hornbill nests in the fringe forest area outside Pakke Tiger Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary (PTRWS) in East Kameng District, is attracting tourists not only from India, but also from other countries as well.
The unique effort has not only increased the inflow of tourists, bird lovers and watchers, but also volunteers from within and abroad, including from Singapore to support the project with funds.
The initiative has not only given a new lease of life to the endangered species, the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh, and boost their population but set a glaring example of public private partnership (PPP) model.
Taking conservationist Chukhu Loma's innovative idea in collaboration with Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) in 2000 in pursuing the local Nyishis to replace the bird's original beak, decorated in their traditional headgears, locally called 'pudum' with fiber-made artificial ones to prevent their killing forward, Tapi's pioneering move is worth emulating and appreciating.
Pakke is the only hornbill sanctuary in India.
DFO Tapi, a highly decorated forest officer, has recently initiated a tripartite agreement between Ghora-Aabhe Council (GAC) of Seijosa circle headed by Chairman Takum Nabum, Mysore-based Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) and DoEF/DFO enlisting the principles, terms of agreements and the roles and responsibilities of all three partners.
He informed that HNAP aims at ensuring the conservation of the hornbill population, threatened due to habitat loss and hunting.
The hornbill nesting habitat is being degraded because of loss and shortage of nesting sites outside the protected areas. It would extend protection and monitoring efforts outside the park with the involvement of the locals.
The forest around PTRWS harbors four hornbills species - great hornbills, wreathed, oriental pied and the rufous-necked, listed in ten Schedule l of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972), while the last variety is a globally threatened bird species.
Besides being a long-term wildlife conservation effort, the project will help collect ecological information on the majestic bird for research and planning.
The phase-wise programme with limited funds was launched in July, Lanka, Galoso, A2, Mobuso-I, Mobuso-II, Upper Bali, Margasso and Darlong villagers, the present nesting sites, with the appointments of ten nest watchers in January 2011. In all 14 nesting areas located so far under protection. It would be extended to other villages in subsequent years with availability of funds.
The NHPA with assigned responsibilities for three parties, offers a monthly Rs 3,000 as honourarium for eight months (Jan-Aug) to the nest watcher with the responsibility to locate and inform about nests, monitor regularly and ensure their safety by proving protection including safety of trees during the non-breeding season (Sept-Feb) with the help of GAC. Moreover, a qualified person has been engaged as local field coordinator.
The NCF is funding the project and supporting field staffs while the DFO plays advisory role and the DOEF facilitates appointment of nest watchers.
Interestingly, Loma, a former PTRWS DFO, due to his three year long effort managed to get back about 500 original hornbill beaks. Conservation is in his blood, as he continues his path-breaking move personally even today from his Doimukh house.
He gifts an artificial beak in exchange of the original to those who promise to spread awareness to protect and refrain from wanton killing of wildlife.
Arunachal with over 82 percent forest cover, the highest in the country is home to innumerable endangered and rare species and needs more Tapis and Lomas for the state to conserve its natural wealth for posterity. (ANI)
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