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3-day hornbill festival begins on Friday

Times of India, New Delhi, September 18, 2014


Members of a tribal community of Arunachal Pradesh, who traditionally hunted the hornbill but have now turned protectors of the birds, will be coming to the city for a three-day hornbill festival organized by a city-based non-governmental organization (NGO) from Friday "The Nishis are a tribal community, who live in Seijosa village near the Pakke Tiger Reserve. It was a tribal custom to hunt the hornbill, though according to customary law, hunting was banned during certain times in the year. Since 2006, the community imposed a complete ban on hunting the hornbill," said Amruta Rane of the Mysore-based Nature Conservation Foundation that has been running a conservation project in Seijosa. The birds' distinctive casque - growths on the upper mandible of the bill-is one of the reasons why the hornbill was so prized and hunted by Nishi tribals. Rane said that in the last three years, some of the members of the community have become involved in a project to protect nests of the hornbills.


Three residents of Seijosa village—Suresh Pait, Gingma Tachang and Taring Tachang —will be coming to Pune to share their experiences at the hornbill festival that starts on Friday. "Hornbills nest in holes or crevices of large trees. A project to conserve their nests would eventually result in conserving the entire forest," said Rajiv Pandit, president of city-based NGO Jividha, the organizers of the festival. Arunachal Pradesh is home to five species of hornbills including the globally endangered Rufous-necked hornbill and the official state bird the Great hornbill. Apart from an interaction with the Nishis, the first day of the festival will feature an address by ornithologist Satish Pande on the global conservation status of hornbills. On the second day of the festival, another ornithologist Divya Mudappa would speak about the hornbill species found in the Western Ghats and the islands of Andaman and Nicobar. On the final day, a discussion will be held on ?The Hornbill as a Farmer' ? a look at the importance of the bird in seed dispersal, Pandit said.