Why the first Bird Sanctuary of the state in Thinungei village ??

R.K. Birjit Singh *

 Bird Sanctuary at Thinungei , Manipur
Bird Sanctuary at Thinungei , Manipur : as seen on 8th August 2018


Thinungei is an ancient floodplain fertile village of Manipur. It is located in the coordinate of 24054'.932" N latitude and 93076'.873" E longitude at an elevation of 771 m above mean sea level.

It spreads over an area of 4 by the side of Teddim Road in Bishnupur district flanked by the rolling blue mountains of Laimaton hill range in the western side where the sacred shrine of Ibudhou Sanamahi and the birth place of the great legendary healer Kabui Salang Maiba of Moirang Kangleirol are located amidst the vast green emerald valley and Loktak Lake, the mirror of Manipur sparkling like a blue diamond in the eastern side.

The village is associated with King Paikhomba, the legendary hero of Engallei, the enchanting daughter of Maram King (Khullakpa). Unable to bear the pain and sorrow of separation from her beloved and betrothed Paikhomba, Engallei transformed herself to Goddess of Langol hill through her deep romantic lament and devotion. On the other hand, King Paikhomba, the grandson of King Khagemba, the great conqueror of the Chinese bemoaned throughout his lifetime for his adored Engallei.

The village is being drained by a riotously meandering stream "Lam-kanbi" which keeps on changing its course and belief to be the personification of an elf with a natural brine spring stream, "Thum-khong-lok" in the south and "Khousalok" now known as Khujai-lok streams at the northern side.

In the ancient days, the village was primarily inhabited by Rongmei tribes along with the Meetei as brethren although Rongmei tribe is presently confined to Thingpui (Laimanai) village in Churachandpur district. The village was one of the key granaries of the kingdom of Manipur during the reign of Khagemba Maharaj.

The eastern side of the village, the only living shoreline of Loktak Lake known as "Thangjingkom" is one of the revered nine water bodies of Loktak Lake "Ishai Mapan" as referred in the ancient Moirang Kangleirol.

The elucidation and beliefs of the villagers regarding the name of the village was that on one occasion there was less rice crops in the granary of the palace and the king sent his men in horseback to find rice at the various state granaries located in different remote areas of Manipur.

The horsemen of the king in search of rice could not find any rice as most of the rice of the season was collected earlier by the Keirungpa, officer in charge of the state granaries responsible for collection and storing of rice crops from the imperial paddy fields (Ningthem-loukon).

In fact, King Paikhomba came to Thinungei village with his men in horseback to find and collect rice on Monday, the 10th of Lamda (13th February, 1696) and at last they found rice crops from the state granary of Thinungkei, that was how the name of the village was coined in another phonological change; Thinung = means, in yawning search of; gei or kei = granary or Tiger.

In ancient Meetei kingdom, the King's servant who looks after the state granary is referred as Tiger (Kei) to frightened people. By the time, people of Manipur were much frightened by Cholera epidemic and that of tiger menace.

King Paikhomba ordered his men and dug out a course of canoes in Thinungei to carry the Rice paddy to the palace through Loktak and Nambul. The era of Ningthem-loukon (imperial paddy field) come to an end in Thinungei when the earthen dam used to irrigate the Ningthem-loukon was breached by the strong water current which could not be stopped even after heavy thumping by the foot of elephant brought from the palace during the reign of Maharaj Chandrakiri. Still the area is known as "Ningthem Loukon".

Through the pace of time, the small village grew progressively in a pastoral manner with the ancient culture and rich traditions of the land and people of Manipur fusion with Vaishnavism like a cloth interwoven with the golden fabrics and silver threads.

The changing face of the world due to the geo-political conflicts did not left Thinungei alone in the almanac of the World War II. The stage was set, the battle lines were drawn in 1942 and the village suddenly found itself on the frontier between the Japanese in Burma and the British in India.

It turned into a massive battlefield in 1944 when the Imperial Japanese Army, together with Indian National Army (INA) units, launched Operation U Go, with its main objective of capturing Imphal, the capital city of Manipur.

The village was pounded heavily by the allied force due to the presence of Lt. Gen. Yanagida of Imperial Army of Japan which Slim recognized as one of the toughest divisions in Burma penetrates and based in three camps at Thinungei, Laimanai Kabui and Ninghtoukhong, the fulcrum of "The Battle of Imphal and Kohima".

 Swampy Grassland at Thinungei , Manipur
Swampy Grassland at Thinungei , Manipur : as seen on 8th August 2018

Why the first Bird Sanctuary of the state in Thinungei village ??

1. Only Thinungei village has living shorelines of Loktak Ramsar in the present time with various types of habitats including mudflats and swampy grassland which can attract an array of waterbirds including those of migratory and shorelines birds. There are no other such places around Loktak Lake.

2. The highest number of waterbird population and species diversity has been recorded from this area during the last decade of waterbird census in Loktak Lake.

3. Availabilities and support of huge varieties of aquatic food plants, eaten and most preferred by ducks and geese belonging to the family of anatidae such as Sago-Pondweed Potamogeton pectinatus locally known as 'Lairenchak', Wild rice - Oryza rufipogon (Wainuchara) etc.

4. The area is most preferred and ideal habitat destination for long distance flying migratory waterbirds wintering in Loktak such as Ruddy shelduck, Nganu-thangong(Tadorna ferruginea), Greylag goose, Lam Kanga (Anser anser), Bar-headed goose, Kangshel (Anser indicus) etc.

5. Key refuge for the threatened and vulnerable small birds of floating grassland habitats.

6. The area will be an important key site for fishes of Loktak Lake where it can find liberty of time, space and ideal habitat for breeding that had never been happened and will definitely increase fish population and their diversity in this Ramsar Site.

7. Its rich tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

8. It may be a very favorable and important part of the tourist circuit which may be formed with the sacred shrine of Ibudhou Sanamahi in the western mountain, Moirang, Sendra and Keibul Lamjao in the southern side.

9. Easily accessible for the tourists, conservationists and researchers as the proposed area is just nearby the Teddim Road.

10. The presence of devoted and strong groups of wildlife conservationists in the village.

11. Poverty and biodiversity degradation are two related significant challenges that the present century experiences. Ecotourism is a type of sustainable tourism which is considered to be a panacea for these two global concerns.

The underlying argument is that the financially poor people depend highly on biodiversity for their sustenance, and hence, conservation of biodiversity can only be successful if measures like ecotourism address poverty elimination appropriately.

Broadly speaking, it contributes to the conservation of protected areas by:
(a) generating revenues that can be used to sustainably manage protected areas,
(b) providing local employment, and (c) inculcating a sense of community ownership.

12. The interesting aspect of ecotourism is that it aims at conservation not only through economic development of the locals, but also through their socio-cultural empowerment. Since the overall quality of life of the host population is a combination of economic, social and cultural dimensions, ecotourism in order to be sustainable does not only need to be economically sustainable but it also has to be socially sustainable and culturally appropriate.

13. There is much hope for ecotourism in spite of the various loopholes in the realm of its implementation. Once there is a strong integration of conservation of natural resources and improvement in human well-being, ecotourism will undoubtedly be a successful policy. The policy drawbacks are thus to be addressed adequately by effective involvement of the local people, inculcating awareness about conservation, educating locals as well as tourists etc. to create a win-win scenario for both the local communities and natural resources.

14. Development of infrastructures such as road connectivity, electricity, potable water supply scheme, IB, tourism huts, health and sanitation and other social infrastructures.

15. Livelihood improvement of genuine poor fishermen who depends on fishing in Loktak Lake and to provide adequate space for fishing with modern fishing gears and gadgets.

16. Benefit of getting funds from abroad for local development and living standard of the people of the village.

17. Employment in the sanctuary as well as tour field guide, boatman and benefits from home stays of the network of ecotourism around the Lake and the sanctuary.

18. Product branding through Self Help Group (SHG) in the name of Thinungei Bird Sanctuary, an opportunity to develop handloom and handicrafts interwoven with cultural heritage of the village to show cast to the world.

19. Benefits accrued from Bird festivals, workshops, functions and stalls and exposure of budding researchers, scholars and children's to wildlife conservation.

20. The village which does not have any important and popular land marks for other people to know and visit will be in the national map of the few bird sanctuaries of the country and will come into light of the rest of the world.

 Foreign Visitors at Thinungei , Manipur
Foreign Visitors at Thinungei , Manipur : as seen on 8th November 2018

Then why there is a lot of hue and cry, protest from a certain sections of people?

1. The rights of fishing of the fishermen should be given in Loktak Lake as well as the right to live for other fellow species and waterbirds and stake holders in Loktak Lake as Loktak cannot be only for fishermen's.

2. The villagers of Thinungei have the same right as that of fisherman to grow, develop, and educate themselves to uplift their lifestyle through ecotourism and conservation of the rich biodiversity heritage of the Lake.

3. Encroaching illegally in the shoreline area of the core zone of the Lake in the name of fisherman in this Ramsar Site, a wetland International is a total gross violation of the National Wetland (Conservation & Management) Rules, 2017 and Manipur Loktak Lake (Protection) Act,2016.

4. Electrocuting fishes, poisoning and poaching of waterbird in the name of fisherman are against the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Environment Protect Act, 1986.

5. The area covered by the proposed sanctuary in Thinungei area is only 13.93 hectares in swampy area (Tumurakpa mamang to Makha leikai pukhri achouba. Total area at Thinungei Mamang Loktak area is 84.3 hectares. Total area encroached by individuals- 70.3 hectares. But these areas are part of Loktak Lake.

6. The Government of Manipur already notified the area as the first Bird Sanctuary of the state and the notification cannot be rolled back even by the cabinet as per the ruling of the Supreme Court. However genuine rights may be settled through negotiation on humanitarian grounds through the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

What is the Govt. of Manipur doing now??

1. Is the Govt. of Manipur is under the political trap of the vested interests persons?

2. What is the State Wetland Authority, Loktak Development Authority and Environment Department is doing over the large area of encroachment made within and around the sanctuary in Loktak Lake?

3. Is the Collector appointed is discharging his duties within the time line and frame work of the Wildlife Protection Act,1972 ?

Governance does not mean a mere Government. It means framework of rules, institutions and established practices that sets limit and give incentives of the behaviour of individuals, organizations. Without strong governance the danger of conflicts could be a reality and that reality is what we are facing today. Law is what law does, if the law cannot be enforced and operates without reference to social goals; it becomes meaningless exercise in protection of vested interests.

* R.K. Birjit Singh wrote this article for
The author is Asst. Professor, State Coordinator, Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN), Manipur.
Honorary Wildlife Warden, Bishnupur District and member, Manipur Biodiversity Board (MBB), Govt. of Manipur
The writer can be reached at bsningthemcha(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on May 12, 2019.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Zeilad Lake, Tamenglong #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Report on 54th Engineers Day 2021
  • Social Media & Political Campaigning
  • What if ? :: Poem
  • Condolence prayer for Oscar Fernandes
  • Virus threat not over yet
  • The virus is still out there!
  • RIMS, Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Nagaland CM Rio calls Ravi 'genuine' man
  • Role of media in combating Covid
  • One day business shut-down in Dimapur
  • The warning bell is ringing loud & clear
  • Anxiety over arrival of train service
  • Choosing candidate the first step
  • Raghu Leishangthem : Manipuri Poet Biodata
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Memo to CM : Inclusion of Meetei in ST
  • Without you :: Poem
  • Lessons from the pandemic
  • ICS (IAS) viva voce of Khushwant Singh
  • Blaming predecessor till near end of term
  • Questioning truce pacts with others
  • ILP & COVID checking @Jirighat : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Webinar: Higher Edn & Career in USA & UK
  • Prostate Cancer: Know its warning signals
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Hope heals crisis :: Poem
  • AFSPA in NE amid peace accords
  • TSE completes 22 years : 1999 to 2021
  • Pathetic Road @Imphal-Jiri : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • National Lok Adalat in High Court of Manipur
  • On tourism in the Northeast
  • The Dement Corona Avoids :: Poem
  • The prism of relationships
  • Reappraisal of early Meitei settlement
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Royal Charter Day celebrated
  • Poshan Abhiyaan : A people's movement
  • MTech in Defence Tech at Amrita Univ
  • Ethno-Veterinary medicine in livestock
  • Power dept employees eyeing soft target
  • Taking a look at issues in 2012, 2017
  • Meetei Leikai @, Silchar, Assam #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • The uncle conundrum
  • Himalayan Day : Science & Knowledge
  • Pandemic : changing dynamics of preschool
  • Common factors that enhance beauty
  • Another peace deal sans solution..
  • Rolling up sleeves ahead of Assembly polls
  • Development, Ethnicity & Gender : Book Rvw
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • World Suicide Prevention Day 2021
  • 'bob World' : Mobile application launched
  • Glimpses of Love :: Poem
  • How much more ordeal can Afghans take?
  • Tall claims on reforming agriculture sector
  • The commandments from WHO
  • Burma refugees yes or no ?
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Biotechnology Grant (BIG) for startups
  • Teaching as a career in India
  • Epitome of impeccable humanity & humility
  • Role of CSOs vital in preventing virus
  • Disturbing high TPR in some hill districts
  • Fine Arts Exhibition MU #3: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Immune boosting for lactating women
  • Give up on fear not dreams !
  • Stop plantation of Palm Oil Trees in NE
  • Another Perspective of Life :: Poem
  • ..right recipe for bitter electioneering
  • Debate over ST status for Meiteis
  • Jadonang in History :: Part 2
  • COVID-19 Status 05 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Athokpam Kholchandra : Dr Kamal Kabiratna
  • Remembering Lord Krishna appearance day
  • Sustainable livestock farming
  • After 9 years, thirst to serve unchanged
  • Disturbing TPR in some districts
  • Saikhom Mirabai: Olympics #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 04 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • World Sexual Health Day in Manipur
  • Save The Peace : Conf on Indo-Naga peace
  • Teachers, I salute thee !
  • The Art of Living :: Poem
  • Bongbal Kholen, Kangpokpi #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipur Art Festival 2021 canceled
  • Towards a new Manipur Budget 2022-23
  • Inauguration of NPF Manipur Head Office
  • Natural facial at home for glowing skin
  • School yearning to resume normal class
  • The uproar over Urea 'shortage'
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Pundit Raja Atombapu : Doyen of journalism
  • Friends :: Poem
  • Meeting report at Cachar, Assam
  • Indigenous peoples & a new social contract
  • Pseudo-indigene permanent threat to native
  • Heavy rush for admission to Class XI
  • Jadonang in History :: Part 1
  • Memorial Stone & Shaheed Minar : Gallery
  • An officer and a gentleman
  • Mass production of biofertilisers
  • Kannappa Naayanaar - World 1st Eye Donor
  • Will election ruin gains made in virus fight
  • Signing off August with lowest TPR
  • Keidoubagi Kidoino on COVID #3: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 31 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • September Calendar for Year 2021 : Tools
  • Revisiting all alphabets of Article 371
  • Abdication :: Poem
  • Need a softer approach to language issue
  • 2022 polls: Tough task for Congress
  • Party hopping antics before the election
  • Death Anniv: Shimreingam Shaiza: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Khangminashi Lecture VIII : Electric Vehicle
  • Ardent Gardener :: Poem
  • Vision Correction doesn't need a doctor
  • No place for Meetei in Heritage Museum?
  • Ordinary testing rate can't beat the virus
  • Why not make it a poll call
  • 90th Martyr Day- Haipou Jadonang : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Cycle Rally- Natl Sports Day, MU : Gallery
  • Do prayers have the power to heal!
  • Observance of National Sports Day
  • Freedom fighter's mail
  • Frauds feasting on pandemic situation
  • From 'corona' to rousing welcome
  • Meitei ancestors lived in Koubru hills
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Senior Fellowship @ICAR-NEH, Imphal
  • What ails the hill tribals of Manipur
  • Why ? I wonder :: Poem
  • Establishment of Natl Police Univ in Manipur
  • Olympics : Games and Beyond
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipur Post-COVID: need to emerge strong
  • Abstract :: Poem
  • Seminar on Yogic Science
  • Milk make up
  • Visit of central team amid urea shortage
  • Looking beyond the next 4 months
  • Laonii Fest of Poumai #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Governor-designate La Ganesan : Gallery
  • Applications invited from CSOs from NE
  • Covid, Microorganisms, Immunity & food
  • Wishes to Prahlad Ji & Ranjan Ji
  • Setting the stage for India's Gold Quest
  • Assembly over, focus on curbing virus
  • Low number of tests, low new cases
  • Phuba Khuman, Senapati #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Insects @ Charoi Pandongba, Saitu : Gallery
  • No lament, but willingness :: Poem
  • Love - An ever evolving reality
  • Unlock, poll process right recipe for virus
  • Looking beyond the proposed ADC Bill
  • Nata Sankirtan in Manipuri society
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Workshop @MU : Trend in Biological Science
  • Manipur Assembly session adjourned
  • HAC approved ADC Bill 2021 imbroglio
  • Fellowship for BIRAC SPARSH program
  • 13th August @BT Park #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Motsillaba Mingsel : Grand Jury Best Film
  • Youth dealing with adversity during pandemic
  • Pure lifeblood :: Poem
  • Skilling India, a must to encash dividend
  • Virus cases stabilising after curfew lift
  • Pointing fingers at some 'hill leaders'
  • Manipur Olympians reception : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Folklore & Print Culture of Rongmeis: Report
  • Mining & fraudulent clearances in Manipur
  • Tree Plantation on World Folklore Day
  • Letter from a governess to parents
  • Income through livestock based farming
  • Thorny Bill in election season
  • Keep the public informed
  • Sports powerhouse Manipur shows the way
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Sheileja Maibam : Mrs India Karnataka
  • Media in Northeast form NADCOM
  • Oh! Mother Nature :: Poem
  • Success is Boring !
  • Mary Kom reception- Aug 20: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Hijam Gourashyam : Manipur Sahitya
  • Train to Burma
  • Unfinished :: Poem
  • Beauty & make up tips for Raksha Bandhan
  • Allocation, chronic urea shortage problem
  • Results of Class X, Class XII sans exams
  • 13th August @BT Park #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Blunder, religion & militancy: The Talibans
  • Admission: MSc (Food Tech), CFTRI, Mysuru
  • Webinar: Hr Edn & Career in USA/UK
  • NIT Silchar Alumni brings respite in Barak
  • Aug 18 meeting by Nagaland Govt
  • Blame game over fractious northeast
  • Boosting the sports movement
  • Sushila Likmabam reception- Aug 18: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Developing scientific temper is essential
  • XII National Conference of PANE
  • The Wilting Red Rose :: Poem
  • Cypher India breaking competition: NE finalist
  • Colours of Northeast : Photography contest
  • TPR dip no reason to let down guard
  • Back to two figure daily TPR
  • S Nilakanta / P Sushila [Aug 11] #2 : Gallery
  • Pebam Chittaranjan Mangang : Gallery
  • 13th August by CSOs : Gallery
  • 13th August @Thangal Complex : Gallery
  • 13th August @Hicham Yaicham Pat : Gallery
  • RK Sanayaima on 13th August : Gallery
  • Corona, Corona all the way
  • S Nilakanta / P Sushila [Aug 11] #1 : Gallery
  • Road from Imphal to Willong #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 vaccination @ Tamei : Gallery
  • Mirabai felicitated truck drivers: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai @Imphal #3: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai @Imphal #2: Gallery
  • HSLC 2021 Result: Statistics Abstract
  • HSLC 2021 Result: 1st Division
  • HSLC 2021 Result: 2nd Division
  • HSLC 2021 Result: 3rd Division
  • HSLC 2021 : Pass % : Govt Schools
  • HSLC 2021 : Pass % : Private Schools
  • HSLC 2021 : Pass % : Aided Schools
  • Saikhom Mirabai @ Kakching: Gallery
  • HSE 2021 Result: Statistics Abstract
  • HSE 2021 Result: Subject Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2021 Result: District-Wise Pass %
  • HSE 2021 Result: Science Stream
  • HSE 2021 Result: Arts Stream
  • HSE 2021 Result: Commerce Stream
  • Shanglakpam Nilakanta: Olympics #2: Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2021 #3: Gallery
  • Sushila Pukhrambam :: Olympics : Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai : Tokyo Olympics 2020
  • Pukhrambam Sushila : Tokyo Olympics Dream
  • Sushila Likmabam: Olympics Dream: Gallery
  • Lalginsei, Radamchui, Ngaworpei: eMing
  • Downloadable Manipuri Calendar :: 2021