Chizami & Neighbouring Villages

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 Location  Ecosystem Type    Conservation Type    Area(hectare)  Legal status 
 Phek, Nagaland  Forest  Ecosystem Conservation & Species Protection  > 100  Community Owned

Background

As has been described in the case study on Luzuphuhu village (also in Phek district) towards the late 1980s and early 1990s, as the impacts of forest degradation in Nagaland began to hit people, a debate started independently in different parts of the state about forest conservation.

Phek was one of the districts where such debates resulted in many decisions and their successful implementation. The district is inhabited largely by the Chakhesang tribe, occupying 80 villages. All 80 villages have an umbrella organization called Chakhesang Public Organisation (CPO).1 Although the idea about preservation of wildlife was continuously being discussed in annual CPO meetings, it was reinforced during the annual meeting in 1999 when Mr. Pusazo Luruo was the chairperson. After much discussion on the issue, the CPO general session adopted the following resolutions for all 80 villages to implement:

• Ban on buying pork (staple food along with rice) from outside the district. This was done with the intention of saving money and promoting the local economy.

• Seasonal ban on hunting all across the district between 1 February to 31 June (breeding season).

• Ban on fishing with explosives.

• Ban on indiscriminate burning of forests.

• Declaration of complete no-hunting zones wherever possible.

Till 2005, 23 villages had adopted the resolution for declaring inviolate wildlife reserves. In addition, all 80 villages in the district have accepted the seasonal restriction on hunting and prevention of indiscriminate forest fires. The village councils (VC)2 are held responsible for penalising the offenders in case of violations. Fines are imposed on those found responsible for hunting and spreading fires. Of the total fine amount collected, 50 per cent goes to the informant and 50 per cent to the village body. If the VC fails to check these incidents within their jurisdiction after adopting the resolution, then the CPO penalises the VC for violations. The penalty could include reduction in the village development funds, as the CPO has a say in how the district-level funds should be distributed to respective villages.

A group of 6 villages (Chizami, Enhulumi, Mesulumi, Choba, Zelome, Thetsumi) is surrounded by a large patch of forest (area could not be estimated but covers many hills and valleys, seemingly extending to hundreds of hectares). There are differences of opinion among the villagers about the exact boundaries of all these villages. Probably because of this, or because of the distance from the respective villages, these forests have never been used for shifting cultivation and rarely used for forestry purposes other than hunting.

The stretch of forest between Pfutsero and Chizami villages has, in fact, been identified as one of the Important Bird Areas (IBAs)3 in Nagaland due to the presence of endemic species such as birds like Blyth’s tragopan, grey sibia, beautiful sibia, white-naped yuhina among birds and serow, and mammals like the spotted linsang.

Influenced by the CPO resolution, the six villages have in the past tried to get together to declare this patch of forest as protected. However, the effort did not succeed and currently attempts are on to revive the initiative. 

1990-91 Ezikerhiwu Committee (named after a lake, Ezikerhiwu, believed to be inhabited by an evil spirit, on top of the forested mountains) was constituted to protect the forests that form a compact block between the six villages. However, after 2-3 years the effort failed mainly for two reasons: inability to control the grazing of mithun (a cross between a cow and gaur, semidomesticated by many communities in North-East India) by 3 villages (with about 25 households), and continued hunting by some villagers. Those violating the committee’s rules were not fined, so other villagers were also encouraged to renew hunting and other activities that had been banned.

Since the earlier effort did not last long, impacts cannot be told; however, the forest seems to be in good condition. The status of wildlife is difficult to tell, but according to Mr. Thopi, General Secretary, Chakhesang Public Organisation (CPO), wild animals that continue to be found include Blyth’s tragopan, barking deer or chital, wild boar, and Asiatic black bear (very few), among others.

A key constraint seems to be the lack of unity amongst the villagers to deal with the problem of mithun grazing and hunting. The joint committee is attempting to deal with this.

  This case study has been put together based on information provided by Mr. K. Thopi, Chizami village, Nagaland, during a Kalpavriksh visit to Phek district in Nagaland in February 2005.

K. Thopi
General Secretary, Chakhesang Public Organisation (CPO)
Chizami village
Phek district
Nagaland

1 Composed of the village council members, VDB members and youth aAssociation members of all Chakhesang villages in Phek district.

2 The first unit of decision-making in Nagaland. A VC is an attempt at amalgamating the traditional decision-making systems in Nagaland and the Panchayati Raj institutions of the Government of India.

3 IBAs are sites of international importance for the conservation of birds and their habitats. IBAs are among the world’s key sites for biodiversity conservation, and the concept developed by the Birdlife International Partnership facilitates their identification nationally using data gathered locally following globally agreed and standardised criteria. M.Z. Islam and A.R. Rahmani Important Bird Areas in India: Priority sites for conservation (Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society and BirdLife International UK, 2004).

This case study was part of the Directory on Community Conserved Areas (2009), published by Kalpavriksh. The directory can be downloaded here.

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