Chat Archives
Chat on "Wildlife Issues in the North -East of India" dated April 18, 2011
  • Susan Sharma: Welcome to IWC chat on Wildlife issues in the North Ease of India
  • Susan Sharma: Our moderator today is Rita Banerji
  • Susan Sharma: Hi Rita
  • rita: Hi Susan, thanks for inviting me to the chat
  • Susan Sharma: You can give an intro till others join in
  • rita: Ok to give a background in brief, we have been working in the northeast since 2002
  • rita: on wildlife conservation issues
  • rita: The film 'The Wild Meat Trail' was a result of filming in that area for all these years
  • rita: And it mainly looks at hunting of wild animals by indigenous communities for food and for sale
  • rita: and whether it has a significant impact on the wildlife there
  • Susan Sharma: Wild life hunting and poaching is one of the major issues there, you would say
  • rita: Illegal wildlife trade across international borders is a much larger problem
  • rita: and its all across India and other parts of the world,
  • rita: We were looking at the extent of impact of traditional hunting
  • Susan Sharma: Do th elocal people help in this trade for earning some money?
  • rita: Yes in some instances we did get information on sale of bear gall bladder to traders
  • rita: bear bile sells for quite a sium in the international market
  • rita: right now if you look at the northeast forests - there is still a lot of wildlife left
  • Susan Sharma: I believe you are still working in the area trying to create awareness about conservation issues
  • rita: but conservation action has to be initiated with a sense of urgency to save it
  • rita: Yes along with the film we had an education outreach program " Under the Canopy'
  • rita: A wildlife educationist friend of mine Payal Molur came on board for that
  • rita: It was training the trainers program in Ngaland and Assam, and now that has expanded into a
  • rita: three year program with kids in Chizami Village Nagaland
  • rita: And Eco Club. This is in collaboration with Northeast Netwrok
  • rita: and NGO working in the northeast
  • Susan Sharma: do you also run an NGO there?
  • rita: No. We work in collaboration with NGO's.
  • rita: Have you een to the northeast
  • Susan Sharma: Are pople open to education programs in general?
  • rita: Till now our interactions with the communities have been really encouraging
  • Susan Sharma: I have not. Would love to one day
  • rita: many of the places are quite remote and they are happy when people visit
  • rita: Community decisions are taken quite seriously, village councils are strong
  • Susan Sharma: I am surprised at the poor turn out in the chat room. I thought we will have many people
  • rita: So in some communities where the village council has decided to ban hunting , it has been quite successful
  • rita: I guess monday evening....
  • rita: :)
  • rita: do u have it every monday?
  • Susan Sharma: Every 18th date is fixed.
  • rita: okay
  • Susan Sharma: Once I close the room, the transcript is uploaded automatically.
  • rita: okay....
  • Susan Sharma: So people can read it afterwards.
  • rita: okay...thats good...
  • Susan Sharma: Tell about some anecdotes you remember while filming.
  • rita: I guess the whole experience has been quite amazing....we have spent days camping int eh forest
  • rita: getting lost in the dark, our jeep getting stuck in the middle of the river....
  • rita: Some of the best times have been in the villages..
  • Susan Sharma: warmth of the locals?
  • rita: Yes we were in RAchi Village for 10 days ( its in the film) s Nyshi Village
  • rita: they have these long houses on stilts...
  • rita: so we stayed with one of the families
  • rita: it was absolutely amazing....they were all very excited with seeing their photgraphs on the camera
  • rita: so at the end of it we had to visti each and every household in the village
  • Susan Sharma: I always thought NE tribals have been photographed extensively by foreigners
  • rita: and the houses are all spread out - some on top of the hill, some down below
  • rita: till we got everyone's group photograph.....
  • Susan Sharma: I correct my impression now.
  • rita: NE is a huge area...
  • rita: there are still places in Arunachal and other states where very few people have gone
  • rita: Most of the population is tribal, but unlike the rest of the country here the tribal communities own most of the forests
  • Susan Sharma: Is that true in all NE states?
  • rita: They heavily depend on the forest for wood, vegetables, cultivation, wild meat etc
  • rita: Yes except for Assam
  • Susan Sharma: So big dams, mining etc cannot happen without people's permmission
  • rita: Big dams are government projects and I dont think they look at taking permission from anyone
  • rita: Mining is happening - but illegally - and both outsiders and locals are involved
  • rita: infact mining is one of the biggest threats to the natural resources there - specialyl in Meghalaya
  • Susan Sharma: Oh!
  • rita: also parts of Nagaland
  • rita: There are some areas where people are fighting the mining groups....but its a tough battle
  • Susan Sharma: Tourism earnings must be down because of insurgency?
  • rita: Also the northeast in general has been a neglected region...
  • rita: yes tourism possibilities are huge as the landscapes are amazing...but insurgency
  • Susan Sharma: My son went on a motorcycle tour with a friend -covered all states except Nagagland.
  • Susan Sharma: He was advised not to travel after 4Pm.
  • rita: has come in the way. Now in Arunchal Pradesh the state govt has declared
  • rita: that they want to promote toursm
  • rita: Yes even when we were filming in 2007 in Kohima we could not step out after 4
  • rita: in the villages it was fine....recently its been okay
  • Susan Sharma: NE is probably the best forest we have in india.
  • rita: Manipur has been in a bad shape for quite some time
  • Susan Sharma: Kudos to you for braving it out and bringing out the real story
  • rita: Yes I think it still has almost 25% of India's total forest cover
  • rita: and a huge diversity of flora and fauna
  • Susan Sharma: Your film got the coveted Green panda award!
  • rita: Yes its the Panda Award , also called the Green Oscar:)
  • Susan Sharma: Once we had a chat titled "wildlife film making" and the chat room crashedtoo many people
  • Susan Sharma: So this time I avoided mentioning film making
  • rita: hahaha
  • rita: we have no are the culprit
  • rita: but good to chat with you
  • Susan Sharma: We will have one more session- next month or so on wild life film making
  • rita: okay
  • Susan Sharma: Are you working on a film now?
  • rita: yes we are doin a film on women sea weed collectors in the south
  • Susan Sharma: Please give a month convenient to you 18th of any month.
  • rita: and some more documentation projects in the northeast
  • rita: Next month looks tough....will let you know when I am around
  • Susan Sharma: That is fine.
  • rita: Its a great effort from your side -
  • Susan Sharma: We do have some members from North east If you click on "Members from India" on home page you can see the no.
  • rita: okay
  • Susan Sharma: Thank you.
  • Susan Sharma: I am realising that too few people are truly dedicated like you
  • Susan Sharma: We just cannot afford to give up
  • rita: I wont say that. There are many people working on the gorund in really remote areas, and against all odds
  • Susan Sharma: It is great to see youngsters devoting full time to the conservation issues
  • rita: And I think those people provide the inspiration.
  • rita: For us its something we love doing, get to see amazing places....
  • Susan Sharma: It will be great if you can write in about some of those people you know. We can publish them on the website esply the NGOs
  • rita: I think that way there is much more awareness about nature amongst school kids and the youth now
  • rita: Okay will do that
  • rita: For our work you can check out
  • Susan Sharma: By the time they grow up, the adults who are in charge right now, must not deplete our natural resources
  • rita: yes:)
  • Susan Sharma: Yes I will
  • rita: I guess one can only try and lets see where it goes
  • Susan Sharma: Thank you Rita, for not getting discouraged in talking to a one woman audience.
  • Susan Sharma: I will see that the transcript is given all publicity
  • rita: No problem. It was nice chatting with you. Take care and best wishes for all your nature ventures
  • Susan Sharma: So, good night and thank you once again.
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