While humans across the world seem to be working towards the extinction of their environment, Khonoma, a village of north-eastern India has woken up to the cries of nature. Khonoma, inhabited by the Angami, one of the indigenous or tribal people of the state of Nagaland, has demonstrated a resolute will to stop hunting, 20 years ago, in order to conserve biodiversity for their future generations to experience stable ecosystem.
The Angami men spent the majority of their time in warfare with hostile villages and taking human heads. Since 1879, when the British succeeded in annexing their territory, the inter-village feuds have come to an end. These indigenous headhunters killed animals not just for sustenance but as centuries-old tradition. But in 1993, ecologically sensitive people of the village launched a crusade against hunting when they got to know that 300 Grey-bellied Tragopans, a pheasant and endangered species reportedly found here, are killed for their meat in the village. These included some villagers and some who belonged to the village but now resided and were employed outside. In 1998, the Khonoma village council declared its intention to notify about 20 sq km as the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary. They have banned hunting, logging, jungle burning besides banning commercial exploitation of natural resources from forests. This is also helping to address climate change by storing carbon as conserved or restored habitats or restoration of an ecosystem can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As per record of village there are 25 types of snakes, six kinds of lizards, 11 kinds of amphibians,196 kinds of birds( including endangered Grey-bellied Tragopans) , 72 kinds of wild animals found in surrounding forest. Khonoma, named after a local plant, has 250 plant species, including over 70 for medicinal purposes, 84 kinds of wild fruits, 116 kinds of wild vegetables, nine varieties of mushrooms, and five kinds of natural dyes from the surrounding forests in the village. This village is practicing unique form of organic agriculture, including some of the oldest terraced cultivation and ‘alder based jhum cultivation’ in the region. They are also conducting bimonthly 'Sanitation Drive' to keep the village clean and maintain the sanitation system.
“We don’t want our folklore to become meaningless to our future generations as it has names of so many wild species of birds, plants, animals, wild flowers. Our life, tradition, culture are very much dependent on nature and its habitats and we are determined to protect them. ” said chairman of ‘Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary Trust’, 2017.