This beak does not bite | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

This beak does not bite

May 11, 2004 10:13 PM IST

After years of hunting, the hornbills for their beaks, Nyshis are now settling for beak replicas to decorate the headgears.

The Nyshis, a fiercely traditional tribe in north east India, with their open mind and willingness to adapt have proved to be a reprieve for the magnificent but fast vanishing species of the hornbill.

HT Image
HT Image

For centuries, the Nyshi tribes people in India 's remote north eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh have hunted the hornbill. They used the birds' huge beaks to adorn their headgear. Now as the outcome of a campaign launched by Wildlife Trust of India, the Nyshis are ready to defy tradition and replace the hornbill beaks with those made of fiberglass.

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A hornbill headdress is mandatory for a Nyshi man, as a sign of tribal identity and manhood. Nyshis target four species of hornbills: the Great Indian hornbill, Oriental pied hornbill, Rufous necked hornbill and the Wreathed hornbill. The rampant decimation of these birds have so drastically reduced their population that Pakke wildlife sanctuary now remains the last stronghold for these birds in Arunachal Pradesh.

In 2001 Wildlife Trust of India began a cautious campaign among the conservative Nyshi asking them to stop killing hornbills and offering them artificial replacements. This project was supported by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.

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