“Traditional tribal institutions in Northeast India’s Sixth Schedule areas have been very much instrumental as well as can be very influential in the conservation of biodiversity and wildlife in those areas,” said renowned scholar PC Bhattacharjee.
Bhattacharjee was speaking on “Role of Traditional Institutions in the Conservation of Primates in Northeast India” at the 7th Asian Primate Symposium and 1st International Conference on Human-Primate Interface in Gauhati University.
The noted wildlife and biodiversity conservation expert have experience of working in several tribal-inhabited areas across the Northeast.
He highlighted as to how the village council, village heads, district councils can be tapped for the conservation of biodiversity and wildlife habitat in the region.
He flagged how the three district councils, the tribal chieftains and nokmas (village heads) in Meghalaya can be of great help for conservation of biodiversity and bioresources in areas under their jurisdiction as they wield tremendous clout in the areas under their jurisdiction.
“The tribal heads on traditional institutions have the final say in respect of natural resources and wildlife thriving in their respective areas,” he said.
“We have to work in coordination with their consent to achieve our goals of conservation,” professor Bhattacharjee added.
He further said the age-old traditions of conserving sacred groves (forest) among some tribes in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Karbi Anglong (undivided) district of Assam are an outstanding example of conservation of nature.
Substantiating his argument, he pointed out a unique example when the Bodo community in Assam provided 300 square kilometres of land for expansion of Manas National Park.
“I don’t think it is possible in any other part of India and we have to take care of those benevolent tribal people as much as we can for the generosity they have shown to pave way for conservation wildlife in Manas Park,” he said.
He also recalled how during in one of his trip to Mizoram he was pleasantly surprised on encountering a burial column of an endangered hoolock gibbon which couldn’t be saved from being hunted.