A clouded leopard caught on trap camera at Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary.(Meghalaya Forest Department)
A clouded leopard caught on trap camera at Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary.(Meghalaya Forest Department)

Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary in Meghalaya is Northeast’s best protected area

  • Biotic interference in Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary has been significantly reduced, zonation has been done in terms of core and buffer zones and it has a duly notified eco-sensitive zone
By David Laitphlang
PUBLISHED ON JAN 19, 2021 04:50 PM IST

Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary in Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya has been found to be the best protected area (PA) in the North East, according to a management effectiveness evaluation (MEE) report of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

The report ranked Meghalaya at 79.17% (Very Good).

“The fact that the management plan in respect of Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary has been in place from 2001 through 2022 shows that irrespective who’s posted, there is continuity,” it said adding, “There are also prospects of increasing landscape continuity as efforts are on to increase protected areas from the vicinity, which are community forests. The community is also supportive of conservation.”

Biotic interference in Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary has been significantly reduced, zonation has been done in terms of core and buffer zones and it has a duly notified eco-sensitive zone, the report elaborated.

Welcoming the recognition, Meghalaya principal chief conservator of forest, Bayar Lyngwa told HT over phone, “It has been a long-drawn effort and collective responsibility of our staff and the community at large. Nothing can be achieved if we don’t work together. We need two hands to clap and the community is definitely the other hand.”

Nongkhyllem is an area where annual community hunting had been a tradition, but with sensible intervention of the forest department and conscientious support of the neighboring communities, it is now a pristine sanctuary. “If the forest is left alone to itself, it shall regenerate on its own. We need to appreciate that,” the forest chief said.

One of the architects of this turnover, Harish Choudhury, Meghalaya additional principal chief conservator of forests (Wildlife) and chief wildlife warden, said many things are in the offing which will definitely bring more positive change in the sanctuary.

“Communities here are sensitive and respectful to nature. Everything is natural on a broad platform and we are so happy that they acknowledge and support our humble efforts. Yes.... some unscrupulous beings exist but we are working hard to prevent them from violating norms and laws with the support of the communities surrounding the protected area,” he said.

Responding to the MEE report urging on the need for forest authorities to initiate research in key faunal species, especially in endangered species, Choudhury said a project is already underway to boost the clouded leopard population in the state.

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