PASIGHAT (Maksam Tayeng)- In a bid to protect the rare and critically endangered bird, Bengal Florican, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and D. Ering Wildlife Sanctuary (DEWS) jointly organized an awareness programme on conservation of Bengal Florican in collaboration with Eco-Development Committee of the sanctuary on Wednesday at Mer village of Mebo Sub-Division in East Siang District near Assam-Arunachal boundary.
The awareness programme was attended by Ninong Ering, MLA, 37th Pasighat West as Chief Guest and Tayi Taggu, Dy. Commissioner, East Siang District, Pasighat as Guest of Honour among the presence of villagers of Mer and representatives nearby from Paglam village under Lower Dibang Valley district as these two villages fall under the fringe area of D. Ering Wildlife Sanctuary.
The programme was headed by Tasang Taga, Divisional Forest Officer, DEWS who in his keynote address spoke in detail about the urgent need of protecting and conserving the rare and critically endangered birds ‘Bengal Florican’ in and around the D. Ering Wildlife Sanctuary. Taga said that Bengal Florican which is a flagship species of his riverine island sanctuary located between the both left and right branches of the mighty River Siang starting from south of Pasighat to till Assam-Arunachal boundary and it needs community supports of fringe villages like Mer and Paglam and this rare birds are also found in around the agricultural land grassland area of the community.
Taga also spoke about the D. Ering-Dibru Saikhowa Elephant Corridor Project (DE-DSECP) which is meant for securing and creating safe passage for movement of wild elephants between D. Ering Wildlife Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park of Assam. He also informed the villagers that this elephant corridor project was proposed and initiated from D. Ering Wildlife Sanctuary Division by his predecessor DFO and it is to be executed by the incumbent PA manager of the sanctuary. He also resented over hijacking of this project by territorial forest division with the help of an NGO formed purposefully for this project in the name of a community conserve reserve without any community reserve available while bypassing the PA manager of DEWS.
He also said that sustainable livelihood for the local community to gain confidence and co-operation of the community to the sanctuary authority/PA manager was to be initiated by this project of (DE-DSECP), but by the execution of the same project by territorial forest division by bypassing the PA manager has adversely affected the conservation effort of the sanctuary authority. He also added that the territorial forest division doesn’t require confidence building with the community toward the sanctuary, as it’s not the work of the territorial division in the presence of an active wildlife sanctuary division. He also said that the D. Ering-Dibru Saikhowa Elephant corridor funded by World Land Trust and WTI falls under the jurisdiction of DEWS as the elephant passage areas near Mer, Paglam in Arunachal and Siboguri area in Assam where some plantation of saplings were carried out by the WTI with the help of DFO Pasighat Forest Division and few individuals of Paglam village in the name of an NGO.
The elephant corridor plantation area of WTI claimed to be of Paglam village’s Sibiya Chapori area is actually of DEWS’s Jeepghat beat before the Chinese flood of the year 2000 as the erstwhile Sibiya river flowed through that location and plantations of trees like Gamari, Simul etc were carried out by D. Ering Wildlife Sanctuary division in the left bank of the then Sibiya river. A patrolling camp of the DEWS was there around a Lake/Patang at Mer side which was abandoned by previous management of the sanctuary after river course of Siang entirely changed the topography but we will cover the sanctuary area, added Taga while appealing fringe villages like Mer and Paglam to support the sanctuary authority in protecting the Bengal Florican.
While Dr. Biswajit Chakdar, Scientist from BNHS and a Segre-EDGE Fellow said that the D. Ering Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary and adjoining areas possibly has the largest population of Bengal Florican in India. Grasslands and less disturbed crop fields in fringe areas of the Sanctuary are very crucial for conservation of this critically endangered bird. “I have seen movement of a few Bengal Floricans to such fringe areas from the Sanctuary and vice-versa. There is a lack of knowledge about the importance and legal status of the bird among local villagers. The programme has been organized to raise awareness among these local people, who could help in conservation of this unique species and protection of its grassland habitats”, added Chakdar. Dr. Chakdar also appreciated and thanked Tasang Taga, DFO, D. Ering Wildlife Division, Ninong Ering, MLA, 37th Pasighat and Deputy Commissioner of East Siang District, Tayi Taggu for their keen interest in Bengal Florican and efforts to save the species.
Meanwhile, Tayi Taggu, Dy. Commissioner, East Siang district said that the fringe people of D. Ering Wildlife Sanctuary are fortunate enough to have rare species of birds like Bengal Florican around them which if protected and conserved well will give job avenues and other economic opportunities when tourists starts visiting the Florican areas like that in Kaziranga National Park. He advised the villagers to help themselves by helping the sanctuary authorities of DEWS in protecting the birds and animals of the sanctuary.
While on his part, Ninong Ering, MLA 37th Pasighat West took himself as an example who is also extending his all out support to the sanctuary management in protecting and conserving the rare birds like Bengal Florican and wild animals despite himself being a hunter before at the time when he was a Circle Officer at Paglam. “Valmiki, the sage who wrote the Ramayana was also a rogue before, but later he realized a became sage and went on to write the epic of Ramayana. Like him we can also change on time and do good works and in the context of conservation of Bengal Florican, we must protect and conserve this rare birds at any cost which in turn will be a source of income for many youths of fringe villages like Mer, Namsing, Paglam, Borguli, Sigar etc”, said Ering in whose late father’s name the sanctuary is named after. He appreciated the Mer village people who have already passed decisions to ban any kind of hunting in and around the village. In the context of D. Ering-Dibru Saikhowa Elephant Corridor issue, Ering advised both territorial forest division and wildlife division of D. Ering to do their own respective works without criss-crossing other’s work/project as such acts will hamper the conservation effort in the sanctuary and its fringe villages.
Range Officer, Sibiyamukh Range of DEWS, D. Koyu, Anchalghat and Borguli Range RO, O. Perme, EDC Member of DEWS, M. Tayeng, O. Modi, Gaon Burah of Mer, G. Pangging and Gram Panchayat members from Mer and Paglam village also spoke on the occasion for the conservation of Bengal Florican in and around the D. Ering Wildlife Sanctuary.