Environment & Biodiversity

News about tribes: Idu Mishmis

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority has suggested to declare Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh a tiger reserve, which has alarmed the Idu Mishmi community.
  • The Idu Mishmi have a distinct cultural relationship with the forest, especially tigers.
  • This article describes the Idu Mishmis, their connection with the forest, the proposal for a tiger reserve, and the community’s opposition.

Who are the Idu Mishmis?

  • The Idu Mishmi community is a sub-tribe of the larger Mishmi group, mainly residing in Arunachal Pradesh’s Mishmi Hills, which border Tibet.
  • The tribe has strong ties with the region’s flora and wildlife, especially tigers, who are regarded as their “elder brothers” in their mythology.
  • Despite customary hunting practices, the tribe adheres to a belief system of myths and taboos that prohibits them from hunting many creatures, including tigers.
  • According to anthropologists and researchers, this belief system has resulted in a one-of-a-kind paradigm of wildlife conservation.

Making Dibang WLS a Tiger Reserve

  • Plans to designate Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary as a tiger sanctuary have been in the works for some time.
  • The sanctuary was declared in 1998 and is home to rare Mishmi takin, musk deer, goral, clouded leopards, snow leopards, and tigers.
  • In 2014, the Wildlife Institute of India conducted a survey to determine the presence of tigers in the region using photographic evidence obtained through camera trapping.
  • The research discovered tigers in the highest reaches of the Mishmi Hills, which served as the foundation for the proposal to designate the sanctuary as a tiger reserve.

Why are the Idu Mishmis opposed to the move?

  • As a wildlife sanctuary, the community’s access to the Dibang forests has not been affected, but many believe that a tiger reserve would increasingly limit access.
  • The conversion to a tiger sanctuary would include stricter security measures, such as a ‘Special Tiger Protection Force,’ limiting the community’s access to their forest lands.
  • The community has designated a portion of its forest land as a ‘Community Conserved Area,’ which is completely controlled by local populations and prohibits hunting, tree felling, and other conservation measures.
  • The community claims that the Dibang WLS was built without their permission or awareness.
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