A rare book on Birds of Manipur

Salam Rupachandra Singh
Manipur has been described as a God gifted land. Many persons who visited and explored it have given this tiny land different names for its beauty in uniqueness. One of my friends from Delhi had once said that God has given you everything not only by His right hand but by both hands in nature’s beauty while seeing the valley and hills and experiencing its pleasant climatic conditions. Thus, the pioneer native writers have pledged in their text, ‘Give us the blessing to be born here, here to breathe last.’
However, Manipur remains as one of the toppers in ugly shapes of social evils. Here, though people are mild, soft spoken and friendly to others, social evils and unlawful elements like drugs peddling and smuggling are at its peak. Youths who are termed to be the future pillars of the Nation indulge in social evils. Moreover, corruption in case of employment goes on to the extreme height as an open secret. Pocketing public money meant for developmental works is also not a new thing here. The influx of migrants and marginal workers is a reality while the indigenous people simply have no work culture. The question of snatching away the manual labour by outsiders shall not arise in case the local people actually take up the work. However, to some extent, the rate of self-employment is gaining pace in recent  times which is a positive sign of independent entrepreneurship and work sense. It is perhaps due to a wide exposure to the mainland and abroad as well as the emergence of the internet.
The flora and fauna of Manipur is changing day by day. It has always been the fear that Loktak Lake would be polluted beyond redemption due to continuous exploitation in and around its edges. Some decades back, plenty of water mass was there, however, we could see setting up of houses and structures in its surroundings. Who cares for it ? Human settlement has increased rapidly around the lake.
The weeds and planktons, the lilies and lotuses which we saw once at the entrance of the lake, have all but disappeared. Likewise, many species of fauna are under the threat of extinction. We hardly care about it, but can we continue to remain indifferent ? This is despite the fact that human life will be endangered if the present trend of exploiting nature continues unabated.
Many faunas of Manipur have gone extinct and some are already endangered. In such a situation that Dr N Thambalshangbi has come up with her work AVI FAUNA of MANIPUR based on her research thesis in Manipur University. A different kind of effort and labour has gone into bringing out such a book and as such the author’s note in the book highlights the challenges in publishing such a book.
The book contains the names of a great number of birds once found but now very rare in the State with the description coming with its species name, scientific name and local name. The description of the Avians with their status and distribution, ecological note along with photographs are in the book. The number of birds researched has increased while authoring the book from its earlier thesis work. The team work and stories behind such a venture need to be told at an appropriate time and occasion.
The colour photographs of one hundred and eight specific birds are made available in the book. Noted nature lover Shri Kh Samungou Singh has pointed out the different rare birds as he is in the field of the subject matter of fauna of Manipur. Bringing out the book as a churned out research thesis of the author will save from remaining it only in the rack of University library, but will definitely enhance the knowledge and basic information of these birds. How they were once here and what is their status in the region.
One should read the book to know more about birds in the region. Things have changed. While during our days, using a catapult to shoot birds, like sparrow, wild pigeon,  bulbul etc for consumption was not rare, these days, even though our children who are fond of certain meat, refuse to taste meat of such common birds. It is a good sign, we hope. The book will make people hesitant to kill birds for food, sell birds for money and netting for its catch. On the other hand, role of wild life lovers like People for Animals in protecting wildlife is also really commendable.
One should have in mind the Wild Life Protection Act and Manipur Wildlife Protection Act & Rules which entail various dos and don’ts with provisions  for fine and imprisonment. The present book will help remind the provisions of the laws.  Authors of rare books in Manipur need to be appreciated for their toil and sweat in bringing out such books. Their efforts and endeavour shall not remain unrewarded by people. Significantly very rare birds like ‘Urengkonthou’ ‘Lam-khunu’ ‘Sendrang’ etc were freed after  taking photos. Trees in every house we miss, bamboo groves commonly found in each and every house no more exist, the soil and earth are cemented for human  com- forts, where will these avians nestle ?