Guwahati: The distribution of the two species of Hoolock Gibbons – the Western  Hoolock Gibbon and the Eastern Hoolock Gibbon in India is limited to the seven states of northeast India on the southern bank of the Dibang, Brahmaputra river system.  

Habitat fragmentation and hunting have been the major threats to gibbons in India. Lack of basic information and poor conservation awareness about the species in different sections of the people including the frontline staff of the Nagaland Forest Department has compounded the threat to  Hoolock Gibbons posing a major hindrance in the conservation of the species. 

The forest guards who actually work in the field are unaware of the various facets of Hoolock gibbon conservation strategy. Keeping this fact in mind and to add steam to the conservation efforts in the State of Nagaland, a series of “Training of Forest Guard for the Conservation of Hoolock Gibbon in  Nagaland” has been designed. 

Aaranyak, a Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation with a mission of carrying out research, training and conservation activities in Northeast India in collaboration with Nagaland Forest Department and with support from the US Fish & Wildlife Service carried out the first-ever training programme for frontline forest staff in Nagaland on Hoolock gibbon conservation. 

This training course was week-long and residential. A wide range of related topic areas are covered including, Biodiversity in Northeast India and conservation, Primates Conservation in Northeast India with special reference to Hoolock gibbon, Gibbon Census or Population estimation, Gibbon Data collection, maintaining & reporting, Techniques of Floristic study, Gibbon habitat characteristic and  Restoration, Population Monitoring, Gibbon rescue and rehabilitation, Global Positioning System &  use in field, and Legal Orientation (Wildlife Laws and its application).

This course had provided participants with an initial understanding of the basic principles of Primatology, experience with the methods and techniques used in field research. The course consists of daily lectures and field exercises. 

The training for the first batch was started on February 7, 2022, at State Environment and Forestry Training Institute, Dimapur, Nagaland. It was inaugurated by M Shakiba Yimchunger, IFS, Director of SEFTI, Dimapur, who welcomed the trainee from Nagaland and said that this type of training, the first of its kind in the state of Nagaland, would help frontline forest staff build their capacity for the conservation of biodivesity. 

Dr. Dilip Chetry, the Head, Primate Research & Conservation Initiatives of Aaranyak welcomed all the trainees and requested to make full use of this training to enhance their knowledge on conservation of  Hoolock gibbon in particular and biodiversity in general. The inauguration session was also addressed by Obed B. Swu, Deputy director, SEFTI. 

Twenty-eight forest guards from five wildlife divisions of Nagaland had attended the training programme from 7th to 12th Feb, 2022. A field study was conducted at Hollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam. 

During these training programme Dr. I.C. Baruah of Assam Agricultural University, Dr. Bibhab Kumar  Talukdar, Dr. Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar, Dr. Dipankar Lahkar, Dr. Jimmy Borah, Dr. Dilip Chetry, Arup  Kr. Das of Aaranyak, Mridu Paban Phukan from Wildlife Conservation and Study Centre, and Ajay Kr. Das, of Aaranyak & Guwahati High Court, trained these forest officials. 

The convocation of the training was held on February, 2022, where, certificates, books, posters and other study materials were handed over to the trainees by Raj Priya Singh IFS, Conservator of  Forest (Research, Planning & Utilization). 

Training for the next batch of the first field staff will be held from 21st to 26th February at State Environment and Forestry Training Institute, Dimapur. 

Also read: Nagaland logs 23 fresh Covid cases, 2 more deaths

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