Traditional hunting and trapping techniques of the natives of North East with special reference to Zeliangrongs

 Dr Budha Kamei
Contd from previous issue
Sak-pha is a type of transfixing trap. In this type of trap, an arrow is made to be released; and the arrow thus released does pierce the game. Such trap is not in use nowadays since man becomes victim of the trap. Jou-pha, money trap is laid in a place where there is regular passage of monkeys. The hunter fixed pointed sticks in the ground below the branches of trees which the monkeys usually use in crossing their way. The branches are correctly cut deep so that when the monkey does jump from the branches to the other branches may break down under the weight of the monkey; whereby making them to fall over the pointed sticks and get themselves pierced. Kagang-pha is generally laid near a stream where animals like deer, mithun etc. are regularly coming for drinking. It catches the game by the neck. It consists of a rope made of fibre of a Thang tree. One end of the rope is tied to a log of wood with branches erected by the side of the passage at a height of about six feet whereas the other end of the rope is made into a noose. When the animal enters the loop, the loop automatically narrows its dimension to strangle the game. While using the trap, the height of the lower border of the loop varies according to the size of the animal which the hunter likes to trap. Joukong-pha is a trap which strangles an animal by neck and is used generally for trapping small animals. This trap is more effective when the animal comes from the opposite site of the trap.
Jouki-pha is a cage-type trap having two chambers and is made of wood to catch animals like wild cat and smaller animals (Jouki means a wild cat and Pha, trap). A fowl is set free into the inner chamber to charm the animals. When the animal does pull the real bait, the trigger is unlocked and the door does fall with a thud.
Phai-pha, feet trap is made by attaching a long rope of the fibres of the Thang tree to the end of a bent bough. This rope ends in a running noose behind which is a peg. A hooped stick is stuck down into the ground in a hollowed place in a track used by deer and the top of the peg caught up underneath it. The rope is taken over the hoop and the noose spread. The peg is held in place by a short stick resting horizontally across the hoop against two vertical sticks. On the horizontal stick other sticks are rested at right angles to it and passing under the noose and raised from the earth at the other end by a bit of wood. The whole is covered with dead leaves. If the deer steps in the circle formed by the noose he depresses the sticks which rest on the horizontal stick which holds the peg in place. This does release the peg and the bough springs back into position, suspending the deer by the noose, which has run tight about its leg. Kaikang-pha is a trap working on the principle of lever release system.  Kaikang means a plane rack of bamboo and woods usually placed above the Mhaimang, fireplace. Thingdang-Pha is also a kind of trap, but it is not that sort of the trap used to catch an animal by leg or by the neck using noose. Thingdang-pha means a log laid in wait to fall. Here, a heavy log is laid on the path of the prey to fall upon it. Sang-pha is a trap used to catch animals such as squirrel and rat. Rou-pha is only used to trap a rodent, burrowing at the roots of the bamboos.
Catching of birds
Birds are caught in various ways. A very simple method is that they extract a kind of gum called Tajik from the trees and it is plastered on the branches of tree. By it, small insects, and ants are placed. When the birds sit on gum to eat the ants they are detained. This trap is called Tajik Pha. But, in most cases, they use snares with various knots in birds catching and it is generally placed on the fruit plants. Pha-sang is usually laid on the tip of branches of trees bearing ripe fruits. It catches a number of birds by the neck at the time when they are trying to eat the fruits. Tang-bei is used to catch most at a time and it requires to reset if the manipulation wants to catch another bird. Bourun-pha is also used to catch birds especially when they lay eggs. The trap is laid on the nest itself. When the bird enters into its nest, it is cornered, but not strangled. When it flies out, the noose does strangle it by the neck. Tengka-pha is a U shaped small trap used to catch birds by leg.
Mass hunting
Pei (village council) decides the date of mass hunting. But, hunting is prohibited during the agricultural season. Among all the Naga tribes of Manipur from the first day of the crop genna to the final harvest, “hunting, fishing etc. are strictly forbidden lest the grain in the corn be lost.”The Zeliangrong, “do not take so much to hunting” although they often used poison and dams to capture fish. On the day, before going for hunting an elder of Pei performs omen by ginger (Guhlim Daan Sanmei) at the abode of Northern village presiding deity (Kaipi Bambu) in search of good sign. If the omen is good, then all the young men of the village will go for hunting to the jungle with their spears and trained dogs. They also offer either an egg or chicken to the goddess of birds and beast locally known as Champei for a successful hunting. When a successful hunt takes place, all the villagers hold a great feast of the killed animals normally at the bachelors’ dormitory (Khangchiu). As per custom, the person who first injures the animal is entitled to its head (Shupi Ramei), which he does hang in his house as a trophy.
Hinting rights
Although hunting rights are restricted by the boundaries of the village land, beyond which game already started may be pursued, but outside which fresh game may not be hunted or sought for, snaring rights are not so limited. It is well recognized that snares may be set on the land of another village, and where the respective villages are friendly they will be allowed to remain.
The ownership of the game caught in snares is not always respected, and it is not regarded as a punishable theft to take birds from another man’s snare, though it is looked on as a low thing to do.
Dream and beliefs associated with hunting
Beliefs in dream associated symbols and signs determine the day of a hunter among the Zeliangrongs. To dream of chopping and carrying of firewood is a positive sign. It is also believed that dreaming of receiving guests in the house is another good sign for success in hunting. “Every Angami Naga dreams before going a-hunting and believes most heartily in the truth of such prognostications, and, at any rate with certain dreamers, these hunting dreams have a remarkable way of coming true.” Therefore, dream is highly counted in determining the daily life and activities of the Zeliangrong.
In addition, they have some beliefs while going for a hunt.  To go with spear placing horizontally on their shoulder means some impending danger of being hurt by wild animals.  In an outing, if one’s finger is bitten by lizard, they believe that the man will not achieve success in hunting for the whole year. Hornbill is regarded with reverence by them, but they do not hesitate to kill, and take the flesh as a great delicacy. Pairs of birds in the nest made in the holes of tree trunk, and the entrance facing towards the west, they consider them under the protection of gods. They never take the birds out of it as such interference will be followed by misfortune and bad consequences. They don’t consider other directions except west.
To be contd