Sunday, July 14, 2024

Mrs Hume’s Pheasant Community Reserve opens in Jessami

Date:

EKHON | UKHRUL: Jessami’s Mrs Hume’s Pheasant Community Reserve has become the only Reserve in the world where Nongin can roost and breed in the care and protection of the village community. Inaugurated on January 23, 2024, by Dhritiman Mukherjee, a well-known Nature, Wildlife and Conservation Photographer Ambassador, Roundglass Sustain and Sony India in the august presence of the Jessami Village Council who are behind the success of this momentous initiative. Present at the inaugural function were P. Duna Duo, SDO Chingai and ADM in-charge Jessami, Dr. Umesh Srinivasan, Assistant Professor of Indian Institute of Science and Siddhartha Goswami, wildlife filmmaker among others.

Located in the extreme north of Ukhrul district in Manipur, India and situated approximately 116 km north of Ukhrul town and 121 km east of Kohima in Nagaland around Myanmar border, the Nongin reserve was “created in 2022 under the care of the Jessami Village Council with a primary objective to safeguard the diminishing population of the indigenous and exquisite Mrs. Hume’s pheasant, while simultaneously nurturing its natural habitat.”

Inaugurating the Nongin Reserve, Dhritiman Mukherjee who facilitated the venture of the village council apprised that they came not to teach but to learn from the community who has the knowledge and means to conserve the bird that are on the verge of extinction.

He applauded the enthusiasm of the village community and made a special mention of Dr. Weyepe N Mekrisuh, the architect of the Reserve for recognizing the need to conserve the rare species and care for the environment at the same time. Apart from the bird, Dhritiman Mukherjee said the hospitality people of Jessami accorded to them is a privileged they greatly valued.

While the entire community of Jessami has come to embrace the initiative as their own, it was Dr. Weyepe N Mekrisuh’s humanitarian idea that took shape to what it is today. Perhaps it would be deserving to call Dr. Mekrisuh as the true guardian of the elusive and shy bird for seeding the idea to preserve and protect the near extinct Nongin species in Jessami. The passionate youngster is committed to the idea based on the age-old principle of sustainability and coexistence with nature.

In his speech, Dr. Weyepe N Mekrisuh shared that, “it is basically an idea that is ambitious and that wants to translate itself into so many possibilities. When I talk about possibilities in this context the possibilities of giving us opportunities as an indigenous community to once again reflect and revisit our age-old tradition and practices that is based on sustainability and that is based on the principle of co-existence.”

He went on to say that the practice or discourse on sustainability has become ever pertinent than ever amid the impending climate change and this is going to impact harshly on our community because they wholly depend on natural resources adding that natural resources are part of our identity not a mere commodity.

Dr. Weyepe N Mekrisuh said it has also brought a consciousness of the importance of conservation of conserving natural resources and that the hunters have become the ambassadors for conserving natural resources with their rich indigenous knowledge and practices.

Talking about possibilities for his community, Dr. Mekrisuh is identifying some bright spots in Jessami to bank on the available resources and bring conscious tourism for economic sustainability for the village. Some of these “bright spots” included battlefield tourism, eco-tourism, wildlife tourism, cultural tourism, agro-tourism etc. In the same breath he underlined the importance of collective effort of the community to make it into reality.  

Mrs Hume’s Pheasant/Nongin, State bird of Manipur

Appreciating the conservation initiative, P. Duna Duo, SDO Chingai and ADM in-charge Jessami said it is a historic moment for the people of Jessami village. “This exemplary step taken today by your village is a wakeup call for other villages to join the green and eco-friendly mission,” noted P. Duna Duo on the effort of Village Council headed by its chairman Nizote Mekrisuh.

Meanwhile, Dr. Umesh Srinivasan, an ornithologist (bird scientist) and an Assistant Professor of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore spoke about how Community Reserve like this can create opportunity to bring high income tourist with very low impact in environment. He said the initiative “is a great template where other people can learn from and emulate by communities where these rare, threatened birds are found.”

“This is truly a great example of how indigenous knowledge and indigenous traditions coming together, to create conservation initiative that is very unique,” further applauded the Scientist.

When Dr. Umesh Srinivasan sighted the rare Nongin species in its roosting spot in the steeper part of the jungle that the spotters had found, he expressed his sheer excitement and commented on the profoundness of indigenous knowledge.

“It is very clear that it is not the global economic forces or capitalism that help the conservation but indigenous knowledge and indigenous practices that is helping in conservation all over the world,” he mused.

Perhaps, the biggest contribution to this accomplishment are the hunters-turned-spotters who are now fully immersed in spotting the birds, not to kill but to identify them in order to protect and conserve for future generation. Years of hunting and killing and observing the birds in close proximity in its natural habitat has equipped the hunters with the knowledge and insights into the behaviors, food habits and roosting place of the Nongin that preferred to stay out of sight. Currently, six former hunters namely, Mesehilo Wezah, Nitsete Lohe, Nimulhi Mekrisuh, Nipewe Mekrisuh, Niwepe Wezah and Mesewete Mekrisuh are engaged as spotters for the Nongin Reserve.

Four of the six hunters-turned-spotters.

Ekhon spoke to Mesehilo Wezah, (64) a hunter-turned-spotter who admitted having killed the rare bird several times said, it is now a privilege to conserve Nongin for future and to bring balance in the eco system. He is now happy to see the bird thriving and growing in population in its natural habitat and will do everything to safeguard them. The spotter also called out on hunters from neighbouring villages like Razai, Shirui and others to stop the hunting and start the conservation effort. As for the population of Nongin species in Jessami, spotters believed that over 600 or more birds should be roosting around the Jessami Reserve area.

As the Chairman of the Jessami Village Council, Nizote Mekrisuh can hardly contain his joy at the massive support and encouragement his Council received from all stakeholders to making the Nongin Reserve a success. Surely, the conservation initiative will open a wealth of possibilities that Dr. Weyepe N Mekrisuh dreamt of for his community and beyond.   


|To visit Jessami’s Mrs Hume’s Pheasant Community Reserve
Contact Jessami Village Council at:
Email ID: jessamivillagecouncil@gmail.com
Phone No.: 9717781304/9862690948/8974313861|

(You can reach the writer at Jenny.thingshung@gmail.com)

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