Guwahati: Aaranyak, a premier research-based organization focused on biodiversity conservation, recently organized a three-day exposure trip for a group of community leaders from the fringe of the Daying Ering Wildlife Sanctuary near Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh.
The trip was designed to educate and expose the leaders, including members of the Eco Development Committee (EDC), to the concept of indigenous community-managed eco-tourism and natural resource management.
The team from Arunachal Pradesh, led by the DFO of D’Ering WL Sanctuary, T Taga, was hosted by Aaranyak among the Karbi tribe villagers in Kohora River Basic, in proximity to Kaziranga National Park.
The purpose of the visit was to give the team an opportunity to experience firsthand, the community-driven eco-tourism and natural resource management as a part of larger biodiversity conservation efforts.
The exposure trip was organized as part of Aaranyak’s Journey for Learning (J4L) initiative. The goal of the trip was to enable the visiting delegates to learn from the experiences of the indigenous forest fringe communities in establishing community-based eco-tourism ventures at the fringe of Kaziranga National Park, a famous rhino habitat. The exposure visit took place from January 10th to 12th and was organized under Aaranyak’s Natural Resource Management Program at the Kohora River Basin in Karbi Anglong, Assam.
A team from Arunachal Pradesh was sponsored by Aaranyak, under the combined aegis of its Natural Resource Management Programme and Legal and Advocacy Division (LAD). The team was invited to attend a sensitization workshop organized by the LAD on January 9th at Aaranyak’s Research Office. The workshop focused on the formation of Community Surveillance and Monitoring Teams (CSMTs) in the fringe area of D’Ering WL Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh. The objective of the workshop was to facilitate the community’s role in mitigating wildlife crime.
The team from Arunachal Pradesh, led by LAD officials Dr Jimmy Borah and Ivy Farheen Hussain, were then taken to Aaranyak’s community-based Natural Resources Management Programme in Kohora River Basin. This was done to give them the opportunity to experience the successful eco-tourism model and later use that experience to replicate the same in order to sustain the Community Surveillance and Monitoring Teams (CSMTs) that are being formed near D’Ering WL Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh.
An orientation on the “Geo-Ecology of Kohora River Basin, People, and Culture” was conducted for the visiting team by Aaranyak’s resource persons, Dr Jayanta Kr. Roy and Sarlongjon Teron, to set the tone for the exposure trip. The team also participated in an activity called “Ingnam Kengkam” (walking in the forest) in Karbi, which allowed them to experience the richness of the natural ambience.
The trekking exercise through community forests was led by Dr M. Firoz Ahmed, a senior scientist from Aaranyak and Sanjit Bey, a local expert from the community.
Sanjit Bey sensitized the visitors on wild edibles and medicinal plants, spicing the talk with folk stories. Dr Ahmed complemented Bey’s efforts by providing scientific inputs and by facilitating isolated discussions on how to build eco-tourism using local natural resources without any investments.
After the trekking, the visitors were served a delicious traditional Karbi lunch cooked in bamboo nodes. A small exhibition of products from Pirbi, a community-owned enterprise that sells farm and non-farm produce, was also showcased.
Maksam Tayeng, an EDC member and journalist who was part of the visiting team, said, “As an indigenous member of the Adi tribe in Arunachal Pradesh, the guests were overwhelmed by the innovative ways of running a nature trail and food cooked in an indigenous style. It is easily replicable in Arunachal Pradesh.”
After lunch, the guests were guided through Phumen Engti village by Aaranyak’s team member, Bhargavee Rava. Laki Beypi, a backstrap loom weaver, demonstrated her weaving process and enlightened the guests on Karbi motifs and their significance.
In the evening, the guests visited Engle Pathar village for tea. Meena Tokbipi, a local, guided the guests through her homestead tea garden, explaining the tea plucking and hand-rolled tea-making process. She also served a handmade tea (Smoked tea) variety to the guests.
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In the evening, an interactive session on “Working with Forest Fringe Villages” took place at the Community Resource Centre in Chondrosing Rongpi village. This session was facilitated by Jayanta Kumar Sharma, a senior resource person from Aaranyak. Sanjit Bey, Dhoniram Rongphar, and Bapu Ingti from the community also joined the session. The DFO of Kaziranga National Park, Ramesh Kumar Gogoi also attended the session and shared his experience and management techniques with the team from D’Ering.
The exposure trip was made successful by the contributions of Aaranyak team members Bhaskor Barukial, Deepika Chhetri, Joshna Terangpi, Rowel Engti, Mujameel Haque, and Ratul Das who helped in making the three-day ‘Journey for Learning’ event easy.
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