ASEP MizoramAIZAWL, May 3: Shooting animals not with a gun, but with a camera is the mantra of the Aizawl-based Association for Environment Protection (ASEP), which it has been propagating among the masses. “The tireless campaign on environment protection has paid off to some extent,” said Information and Public Relations Director David L Thangliana as he distributed prizes of a wildlife photography competition organised by ASEP. “There is an awakening on the need to protect our environment thanks to the efforts of the ASEP. However, despite many years ocampaigning across the State, we still see some people carrying catapults when we travel in the remote villages. This calls for more efforts in educating the people about environment protection to achieve the desired results,” he said.

He advised ASEP to seek the help of the Mizoram Journalists’ Association, Mizo Photographers’ Society, besides the I&PR Department, for wider and more effective environment awareness campaigns. He said his department is willing to cooperate in the muchneeded campaign for protection of environment and wildlife which, he said, are under threat. The photograph of a gibbon mother carrying its baby on a tree shot by Lalvohbika Hrahsel of West Phaileng village, won the first prize in the photography contest. The award carries a citation and Rs 5,000. C Lalbiakzama of Pawlrang village won the second prize (a citation and Rs 3,000), while C Lalsiammawia of Lunglei received the third prize (a citation and Rs 2,000).

The winners were selected from among 94 entries submitted by 36 photographers. Fourteen photographers were awarded a consolation prize of Rs 1,000 each. The ASEP is happy that its 16 years of campaign for wildlife protection has borne positive fruits. “There has been significant awakening in wildlife protection, particularly in the villages. Many villages have announced prohibition of poaching in their respective jurisdictions,” ASEP president K Lalmuansanga said. 

Since 2003 when the ASEP was formed till date, more than 100 hunters have surrendered their guns. “Many hunters laid down their guns without surrendering them to the authorities as the gun is considered a treasure. Some have destroyed them,” Lalmuansanga says. “In villages, a gun owner usually lends his arms to many hunters in the village. So, surrendering of one gun stops an average of ten persons from poaching,” the wildlife activist added. Not only guns, many men have surrendered their traps used for catching animals and boys their catapults to show that they would not kill birds again. 

Like in any tribal society, a person had to kill as many wild animals as possible to attain a high status in the Mizo society in the olden times. The ASEP has conducted wildlife awareness campaigns in almost all villages which have yielded positive results. The ASEP identified hunters in the villages with the help of locals and later sent them a letter requesting them to stop hunting. “It is a Mizo mindset to fulfil someone’s request. That really works.” “Though we have a lot more to do, the achievement so far is satisfactory. If this positive trend continues, Mizoram could reclaim its rich flora and fauna,” the ASEP president said. 

The Young Mizo Association (YMA), the State’s largest organisation having branches across the State, has also helped a lot in conservation of wildlife and environment. In many villages, YMA branches protect wildlife, including aquatic animals. A number of YMA branches have constructed mini parks in their areas where trees and animals are given protection.

Source: Assam Tribune/ZODIN SANGA

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