Save The Wild, Save Our Future

O.T. Ramshan *

a meat shop at Ukhrul
a meat shop at Ukhrul :: Pix - TSE

The newspaper report about a live falcon and dry wild meat being put up for sale at a mela held in Ukhrul this past week is indeed a disappointing testimony of how much we care for the nature and the wild life species. Looking at the picture of the falcon with its right leg wounded and a rope tied on the other leg, it reminds me of how foolish I've been all through my life having committed so much harm to God's wonderful creation.

Nature provides us in abundance yet our greed and ignorance has made us so spoilt. This is not the only instance where you get to see a wild species being put up for sale. Forget about the mela which is held just once in a year. It's actually a daily business here in Ukhrul.

Take a stroll down the junction of the old DC office and the road that joins the Manipur Rifles camp at Hamleikhong, and there you'll see, not just one, but many wild species and dry wild meat being put up for sale almost everyday.

Wild cat, squirrel, different varieties of birds, monkey, dried meat of wild boar and deer, you name it; you'll find it there. The most interesting part of it is, those muddle-headed women vendors who would not budge even an inch when the question of negotiating the prices comes. It's all fixed whether you like it or not.

But not surprisingly, customers do buy it in spite of the skyrocketing prices because people have the notion that wild meat taste better! I wonder why the district authority or for that matter different social organisations in the district have to simply remain silent on this issue in spite of the huge crime that we are committing against nature.

Ten years from now on we will hardly hear birds chirping in the trees if the situation as we see today is not addressed. Needless to mention about the indiscriminate felling of trees and burning of jungles in this area during the dry season - it's simply alarming.

Ukhrul, known for its scenic beauty of Shirui peak where the endemic species of lily (Timrawon in local dialect) is found, is considered as the hotspot of bio-diversity in our state. The proximity to the border of Myanmar also adds to the rich heritage of our bio-diversity.

But no wonder the number of lilies is dwindling as well of which, we should not blame the global phenomenon of climate change alone but human activities do play its part in declining the number of lilies.

I feel proud to say, in one way, that I hail from Ukhrul, (Phalee village), for the sheer fact that Ukhrul is on the map of bio-diversity but at the same time I feel so shy to tell my friends that I come from Ukhrul when we cannot protect God's given nature. When I turn back the pages of my childhood days, I felt like I've committed the most treacherous sin in my life - killing birds.

No matter how small the bird would be, I didn't give a damn. Just shoot it and that's a part of my scheme of enjoying leisure time. My legs were indeed swift to hop off from my house and venture out in the nearby jungle with those many tiny smooth stones that I'd collected from the stream inside the pouch, and the catapult swinging on my right hand.

It was just fun to roam around the nearby woods and shoot anything that moves on your way. In winter days especially in the month of January, we'd go to the brooks in the jungle and put snare with a sticky substance called Nei, in Tangkhul, on every place where little water could be seen.

And as the season is usually dry, birds would flock in, in search of water and there they got entrapped on that sticky substance thing. The number of birds, ranging from very small ones to a huge ones like wild dove, that we used to catch everyday is quite staggering. The stark reality is that the number of wild species has dwindled to its minimum.

Ten to fifteen years ago, it was not a surprise thing to see pangolin crawling at our backyards, a deer suddenly barging in from the nearby bushes, wild cats coming into our courtyards and birds of different kinds gleefully playing around the village street. Things have changed now. Pangolins, which are a tropical animal, are hunted down not just for its meat but for its scale too.

A cousin of mine once told me that one kilogram of the scale of pangolin fetches ten thousand rupees. I was dumbfounded when I heard the story. Poor creature! I don't even know its utility but the high prices of it attracted so many of our village folks to indulge into this kind of business that now, very sadly, pangolins have virtually become extinct from my village.

Wild cats, which are mostly nocturnal, are often hunted down just for fun. A neighbour of mine once brought home four wild cats in just one night. Upon asking him why he had to shoot four instead of one, to my utter dismay, he told me that it was really fun to search for the wild cats at night in the open paddy field and take them down one after another.

What a pity! They consider hunting as a kind of sport of which it might be true in the days of yore but our world today has become so different. No wonder, if the destruction of wild life goes unabated, our own existence will be in danger. If we can only kill that 'barbaric instinct' of hunting down wild animals just for fun, we'd become a more civilized society.

How do we, then, put across the message of 'save the wild, save our future'?

I think we need to educate our own people of how much important it is for us to coexist with every living creature around us so as to keep the ecological balance intact and that a slight disturbance in it would cause irreparable loss to our environment wherein our own survival will be at stake.

* O.T. Ramshan wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on December 05, 2013.

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