Reveling in the lap of nature - Forests, Hornbills & Apong (Millet Beer)

Seijosa, a little town nestled in the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh is one of the 43 villages spread across Pakke Tiger Reserve’s buffer zone. It is primarily inhabited by the Nyishi tribals. The Pakke Tiger Reserve is a successful human centric conservation model that protects the hornbills of Arunachal Pradesh. Pakke Tiger Reserve is a haven for a healthy population of four species of hornbills, in a region where hunting for the hornbill horns formed a pivotal symbol of traditional and cultural pride amongst the Nyishi Community.

Apart from hunting, the degradation of the forest area due to logging resulted in the loss of the hornbill population who depend on the forests for food and shelter and of natural resources for the forest fringe communities. With efforts from local NGOs and Forest Department, education and awareness on the need to protect the forests has contributed to the formation of Ghora-Aabhe Society to bring together the local community to protect wildlife and the natural resources in Pakke and also devise alternative sources of income for a region that relied too much on hunting and logging.

“Ghora” which means village and “Aabhe” father, the society has helped create awareness on the negative impacts of hunting and poaching and encouraged the adoption of “Hornbill Nest Adoption Program” on the concept of shared parenting. The biological parents – the Hornbills, the local guardians – the Nyishi villagers & the urban adopters who wish to support and be a part of conservation efforts.

Education and awareness through community inclusion has helped shifting from a hunting culture to a protecting culture. At the Pakke Paga festival 18th – 20th Jan, we celebrate this unique relationship of living in harmony with nature and promote the “Hornbill Nest Adoption Program”. As the Nyishi tribe continues to protect the hornbills and be fascinated by the “Farmers of the Forests”, the hornbills continue to grow the forests through their role of seed dispersals.

With a promise of a close encounter with nature and the rich cultural heritage of the Nyishi tribe, Balipara Foundation supports community conservation through the Pakke Paga festival. The festival will be a meaningful experience to soak in the warmth and hospitality of the Nyishi tribe, indulge in smoked & skewered delights of Nyishi food or intoxicating gulps of the Apong beer, take home their colorful handcrafted artefacts or be blow away by the breathtaking skylines with rainbow hues. Join us as we revel in the lap of nature – Forests, Hornbills & Apong (Millet Beer).

Author: Dr. Aparajita Datta, Nature Conservation Foundation

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