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Hornbill head replicas find favour with N-E tribals

Hornbills are vulnerable in north-east India because the tribals there see value in the birds' feather, casques, fat and flesh.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2004 00:51 IST
PTI

Hornbills are vulnerable in north-east India because the tribals there see value in the birds' feather, casques, fat and flesh.

Many areas especially in eastern and central Arunachal have such high hunting pressure that the great hornbill has become extremely rare or locally extinct.

For the Nishi tribals, hornbill beak symbolises manhood and valour. "Earlier only the village priests used to wear the hornbill beak as a symbol of their authority. But slowly, men of the Nishi tribe began wearing it as a symbol of their valour," says C Loma, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary, who is himself a Nishi.

Nabum Tadab, another Nishi, and founder of the Arunachal Wildlife and Nature Foundation (AWNF) began lobbying with the Nishis to switch over to fiberglass replicas. The Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) responded to a request from the AWNF and manufactured the fiberglass replicas.

Today, hunting of hornbills have been banned in all of Arunachal's wildlife parks and signboards to that effect have been put up by WTI. The village development councils have also announced a fine of Rs 5,000 if any person is caught hunting the hornbills. W

WTI in association with AWNF and the state forest department has also started a poster campaign to save the hornbill.

First Published: Mar 24, 2004 00:51 IST