TODAY -

Celebrating the rights of wildlife - Are we?

Rahul Ashem *



Killing off wildlife disrupts the natural ecological balance and their surroundings. Different faunal species are loss from the state of Manipur due to human pressures and various developmental activities. Manipur is a haven for a wide spectrum of wildlife. The State falls in the Indo Burma biodiversity hotspot and the Eastern Himalayas endemic bird area.

The distribution of different types of forests such as Tropical wet evergreen and semi evergreen forests which occur in patches in the lower and middle elevations throughout, except in the central valley plains. In the higher regions of the State, subtropical broadleaf (evergreen) forest occurs with small areas of conifers in the eastern areas.

Temperate broadleaf forest is found higher up in Mt Tenipu. The only grassland of significance is found in Keibul Lamjao areas. These grasslands are on floating mats of vegetation, locally called phumdi, composed of decaying organic matters. Each of these areas houses a large variety of animal and bird life. Some of them are rare while some vulnerable and endangered.

Mrs Humes barred back pheasant (Nonggin), the state bird is found in one of the State biodiversity hotspots and wilderness areas of Shirui peak (Ukhrul District). Brow antler deer (Sangai), the state animal is distributed only in the floating park of Keibul Lamjao National Park (Bishnupur District). The migration of Amur falcon (Akhuaipunia) in Bhalok village (Tamenglong District) is another indicator for healthy ecological environment and insect abundant forests. The distribution of Himalayan crocodile newts (Lengva) at Zaimeng Lake (Kangpokpi District), one of the high altitude lakes is highly considered.

The presence of Sumatran rhino (Samugandha) in the Anko range (Ukhrul District) is perhaps the most endangered large mammal in the world with an estimated population of not more than 300 in the wild. In addition, the state is also the home of the Leopard (Kabokkei), Leopard cat (Keijenglang), Clouded leopard, Western hoolock gibbon (Yongmu), Hog deer (Kharsa) etc.

Migratory birds like the Greater adjutant (Tharoi chabi khouchon), Rosy pelican, Cattle egret (Urok san dung), Common teal (Lei ngang chabi), Lesser whistling teal (Ti ngi macha), White eye pochard (Ee ruppi mit ngou), Brahmani duck (Nganu thang gong angangbi), Grey headed parakeet (Tenawa meiten) flocks to the state during the winter months. Typical areas representing each of the ecosystems have been earmarked as special areas wildlife.

At present, most of the natural forests are in vulnerable stage due to diverse anthropogenic pressures and over exploitation. The change is creating a new adaptation policy for all faunal diversity. Some species are likely to lose out while others are trying to adapt in their living environment. Moreover, the rising population of human activities is experiencing the loss of conservation status by shrinkage, fragmentation, deforestation and resource exploitation thereby altering the extent and spatial configuration of their habitats.

The conversion of landscape into roads, dams, plantations creating more fragmented forests replacing diversity with paltry monocultures. Clearing of forest area and shifting cultivation is another threat for the loss of animal population in the wild. The development of numerous agricultural areas has also caused the habitat to diminish. It is becoming increasingly difficult for smaller to larger animals to find a sufficient place to survive. Pop­u­la­tions have been frag­mented by de­forestation, increasing the susceptibility of the entire species to infectious disease and natural catastrophic events.

Furthermore, the growing impact of human wild animal conflict is disrupting the web of life and creates unforeseen challenges. The impact is more particular in smaller animals occurring in vast number in terms of the scale of their impact on humans. However, majority of bigger herbivores and large carnivores are greatest threat to humans and responsible for the majority of human wild animal conflicts. Human induced wildlife mortality not only affects the population viability of some of the most endangered species but also has a broader environmental impact on ecosystem equilibrium and biodiversity preservation.

Sadly, we, the human introduce many technologies to the surrounding environment that has negatively impact on the natural habitat. Changes in lighting in an area, for example, artificial lighting on Loktak Lake can significantly affect migratory bird species behavioral and biological rhythms, which are guided by natural cycles of light and dark. The same phenomenon also disoriented the nocturnal bird species by night time lighting. Another suitable example for the disappearance of Manipur elephant has been threatened by the forest degradation and deforestation by human activities like shifting cultivation, encroachments of forest land and settlements resulting in the retaliatory of elephant populations.

Top carnivore species like tiger shows their absence from their habitat in the last tiger census from the State. The animal is losing their stripes due to a myriad of reasons and circumstances ranging from deforestation, habitat fragmentation, poaching, prey density, infectious diseases and trade of body parts as well as conflict with humans. We are responsible for disturbing the wildlife and their sensitive habitats. It is well known that disturbing the wildlife habitat raises their stress level and increases energy consumption.

If repeated frequently, the disturbance can impact on reproduction and the survival of the species. Communities in and around forests are directly dependent on the biological resources for their livelihood. Several wildlife species are responsible for causing substantial damage both to crops (wild boar, wood pigeon) and to regenerating forests (Barking deer, Sambar). For the reason, the herbivore species are labeled as pests and can be killed outside of the hunting season. Many species of wildlife are affected by the impact of human development on their traditional habitat and food sources.

Apart from fragmentation, roads are becoming a serious threat to wildlife, as several wild animals are killed on a daily basis by speeding vehicles. Vehicles today travel at high speeds and this combined with poor eyesight and slow response time of animals results in the death of innumerable wildlife. Scores of reptiles, birds and amphibians are killed due to vehicular traffic in many of the protected areas in the State.

Wildlife week is celebrated in the first week of October every year. The celebration is to raise awareness about the importance of faunal diversity and in turn, saving them. The week also encourages the consciousness of the people towards the conservation of wildlife community.

The need of time is to create more awareness amongst the community and local villagers about the importance of wildlife and its conservation methods. The villagers must strictly follow the regulation in protection of wildlife and biodiversity of the surrounding environment.

The village youth need to be trained in aspects of conservation and wildlife that will help promote alternate livelihoods such as ecological tourism. Promoting education regarding conservation issues will also be helpful. Besides, information on wildlife status, population and community interactions and their contributions to ecosystem development is needed for effective conservation of wildlife management on protected areas. The celebration of wildlife week starts from the basis that we are stronger as a group to face animal issues around the State of Manipur.


* Rahul Ashem wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at benthhook(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on October 09 , 2018.



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