Image: Anoko Mega // Paris polyphylla, locally known as Satuwa in parts of Arunachal Pradesh, is a medicinal herb that grows under the canopy of moist temperate forests. Known for its anti-cancer, anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and anti-tumor properties, there has been an increase in demand for the herb in the Indian and international market over the last decade. In India it is found in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Uttarakhand. Unfortunately, according to experts, the over exploitation and illegal trade of this species is pushing it towards #extinction.
An informal survey conducted by #SanctuaryAsia's #MudOnBootsProject Leader Anoko Mega in and around the Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary and Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary in #ArunachalPradesh has revealed that this #herb is being illegally extracted from these Protected Areas. According to Anoko, Paris polyphylla has a high market price, and locals are hiring external labour from other states to harvest the plant for them. This influx of people who are illegaly entering the sanctuaries is disturbing #wild habitat and impacting wild populations of the herb.
Image: Aalap v. Brahmbhatt // The purple #sunbird's curved #beak is fashioned to perfectly fit nectar-rich flowers. If perchance the beak and flower are not a perfect fit, the bird will do what any survivor would… steal! It punches a tiny hole at the base of a flower and collects its reward without returning the pollination-service nature had intended. Of course, when hunger strikes, nothing is off the menu for any opportunistic survivor… including the flies we see in this protein-rich #Diptera swarm.
Image: Sanatan Deka/IFAW-WTI // Ganga, one of the translocated female rhinos, sighted with her second calf near Kuribeel Camp, Bansbari, #Manas National Park. "Welfare is a dirty word amongst traditional #conservationists. It denotes an unsavoury interest in the individual, while traditional #wildlife conservation deals with populations, landscapes and ecosystems. It denotes concern at an emotional level, while conservationists are largely scientists for whom emotion is anathema. Emotion is subjective, science is objective and never the twain should meet.
In the West, the work of ethologists like Jane Goodall made scientists look at individuals. It was alright to give names to chimpanzees, Jane reasoned, for were they not individuals? To understand them more completely, it was important not to treat them like unnamed objects with numerical attributes, like unknown asteroids in sterile space.
While the issue of animal rights was far more difficult to merge completely with the tenets of conservation, being born an Indian and practicing conservation in this social milieu, I found no philosophical or ecological issue in ensuring that the basic welfare of the individual was kept in mind while practicing conservation.
When @wildlifetrustofindia (WTI) started the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation inKaziranga, the idea was to demonstrate that #wildlife rescue was not just about saving lives and placing an #animal in captivity, but releasing, where possible, animals back to the wild. This was obviously after all medical, genetic and behavioural parameters for rehabilitation were met," writes Vivek Menon ( @vivek4wild ).
Image: Kripaljyoti Mazumdar // Meet the rare and rather recently described #species of primates, the Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala. This endangered #primate was first described in 2005 and is only known to be limited to high altitudes of #Arunachal Pradesh, but could also occur in the neighbouring states of #Bhutan and #Tibet
A Mountain Tortoise Shell butterfly photographed at Mana Valley. Mana is popularly known as the ‘Last Indian Village’ and is located on the Indo-China border near Badrinath, Uttarakhand. This photograph by Naitik Patel was one of the entires in the #NiFPhotographyAwards in 2016.
Image: Pratik Humnabadkar // To see the grand show the deep purplish-blue #Grandala males and dark grey-brown females put up, swipe left! As the #birds descend in a starling-like formation, a bare tree comes alive, as if breaking into blooms of brilliant-blue fruits. Flocking is a strategy Grandalas employ to protect themselves from predatory raptors such as sparrowhawks, buzzards and eagles. One almost never sees a lone Grandala in flight. Ranging across low-to-mid altitudes of the #Himalaya in Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Tibet, and China, these resident and altitudinal migrants forage for invertebrates on the ground and feed on berries and fruits as well.
"Twenty-year-old Sandhya Rani works at the Rathnapuri village dairy cooperative. Every morning and evening she settles down with a register and logs the amount of milk that the village folk bring in. At the other end of the village lives 28-year-old Marina Juliet. Marina spends her mornings with her young child, and in the evening attends computer and accounting classes in the hope that this will help her get a job that will add to the family’s income. Their lives and aspirations would be similar to that of millions of rural women across the country, except for the fact that each day, in between these obligations, Marina and Sandhya don the hats of #conservationists." I'm super proud to share that Sandhya and Marina have been selected as Project Leaders under @sanctuaryasia's Mud on Boots Project! They are our very first women Project Leaders and are working under the guidance of Gerry Martin and Chandini Chhabra on mitigating #snake-human conflict in Hunsur, #Karnataka. (snakebite is a huge issue in rural areas. Studies estimate over one million Indians are bitten by snakes every year)
On a side note: The lack of gender diversity within the project has always been a sore point for me. Women just weren't being nominated as Project Leaders. This could either mean that there were no worthy #women#grassroots#wildlife conservationists in India, which a ludicrous thought. Or that women working at the grassroots level just weren't being recognised, which is much more likely. And so started the concerted effort to identify and embrace women Project Leaders that led us to Marina and Sandhya. (Oh, and the funds to support their work has come from every one of you who donated to my crowd funding #campaign last year! )
#India is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for #environmentalists and #wildlife defenders. Statistics prove that. But do we really need statistics to know the truth? It is clearly getting more and more dangerous to stand up against the 'development'-obsessed government and the giant conglomerates who choose to be on the wrong side of the planet's history. In such times, describing those who are on the frontline of environmental defense as merely courageous is an understatement. It takes so much more. Meet Rohit Choudhury (@rohit.choudhury.106 ) , RTI activist and environmentalist, who is taking the big guns head on to save one of the last abodes of the one horned #rhinoceros – #Kaziranga.
Most recently, the April landmark order that banned all #mining in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Landscape in Assam by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) irked many industrialists and businessmen. Rohit, who was the driving force behind this ban is now in the eye of the storm. He has been inundated with death threats.
He has also been tirelessly fighting the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. (NRL) for several on the issue of the #elephant route obstruction created by them that resulted in elephant deaths. They are now on the verge of establishing a Bio Ethonol Project in a No Development Zone (NDZ)
#SanctuaryAsia's latest June 2018 issue focuses on bringing attention to how environmental activists around the world are paying the price for speaking up and standing against oppression.
Read what Rohit has to say about dodging death threats and his valiant fight against the corrupt. Link in bio.
Read 'The Price We Pay' by Anadya Singh in our June 2018 issue.
Image 1by Rohit Choudhury
Image 2 by Samarjit Sharma