Wildlife week 2020: Raising awareness about wildlife among children

Rahul Ashem
Contd from previous issue
To keep things in balance, Hunggoi (Frogs), Numityungbi (Salamanders/Calotes), Uchi (Rats/Mice), Lin (Snakes) play both roles of predators and preys. Furthermore, Mirang (Spiders) are an important food source for a variety of birds, lizards and wasps. The flyers, known as birds (Uchek) , help in pollinating flowers, disperse seeds, nutrient cycling and modify the environment in ways that benefit other species. Some common birds are Sendrang (Sparrow), Sengbang (Swallow), Urok (Cattle egret), Urengkonthou (Waterhen), Lam Khunu (Pigeon/Doves) etc. Besides, pets like cats and dogs (Houdong, Hui) have many benefits and environmental impact. Traditionally, most of the wild species is closely associated with our legendary beliefs and our folklores, with our epics and our history.
 The story of Tokpa Meisangba (wild cat having long tail) and Waba-chengacacha(a kind of pheasant bird) has been an integral part of traditional folk tales.  
Likewise, the story of Nongoubi, Houdong Lamboiba amasung Pebet, Kabui Keioiba, Huiga Meega Leiminnakhiba, Pi Thadoi, Leisabina Uchek Langmeidong Onkhiba, Kei na Tokpa Pokpra etc are other transit ethical, religious and philosophical knowledge to the Meitei community. Moreover, large carnivore species like Kei (Tiger) are either extinct or rare in Manipur. Once described as the only floating National park, Keibul Lamjao is home to this big feline species, as the park name itself defines. No leopard (Kabokkei) is seen anymore. Some years back, a Black Panther was killed in Kachouphung khul, near Ukhrul Myanmar border. Smaller felines like Keijenglang (Leopard Cat) have lost their natural habitat over the last decades in Manipur.
Their numbers have correspondingly declined and many remaining populations are now isolated and confined to remote areas. Besides, Clouded leopard, Golden cat (Tokpa), Jungle cat (Lam houdong) and Fishing cat are rarely seen and are difficult to observe at present. Historically, the State is also home to Samugandha (Javan and Sumartra) rhinoceros until the beginning of the 20th century. As reported, the presence of Sumatran rhino was seen in the Anko range of Ukhrul district. The Tangkhuls name the animal as Selho and is said to have encountered stray individuals as recently as the early 1990s (Aleng, pers. comm). Now, the Sumatran rhinoceros is perhaps the most endangered large mammal in the world with an estimated population of not more than 300 in the wild.
Similarly, the Anko range in Manipur had about 50 elephants in the past, which is contiguous with those of the Somra tract of Myanmar. Manipur has only eight (8) elephants left in the wild and still yet to be confirmed. Many conservationists also calculated the presence of small herds of elephant in the Barak valley. There are many more species that need to be identified so that the next generation knows the benefits of wildlife and their importance in the ecosystem and services.
Basically, children need more awareness of wildlife sciences at present. More often, children living in urban areas find it difficult to identify the smaller insects found in urban spaces. Frankly saying, the scenario of urbanization and new technology diverts their minds from the surrounding environment. New buildings and other infrastructure destroy the small water bodies, urban wetlands and ponds which in turn disturb the homes of many wild species. At the same time, the change in climate, deforestation and other natural factors lead to the emergence of a new insect, Khayi (local name) seen in crops and other vegetables. Therefore, this 2020, every children must be raised to be aware on the various dangers being faced by wildlife.
The main reason for their extinction or their classification as vulnerable or endangered and the measures people can contribute towards their conservation should be instilled in everyone's mind. Every child must know the issue of wildlife conflict at an early stage of their lives.  It is good to raise sufficient awareness among them. As a conservationist, the concept of chaos theory, the butterfly effect, small change in one place creates unexpected changes somewhere else can change the ecosystem and services at any time of the year.
The writer can be reached at [email protected]