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.