Northeast India are pretty much the ‘Green Lungs of India’ and the region is one of the seven original biodiversity hotspots in the world. Blessed with rich natural resources and home to around 225 tribes, the region has remained enchanting and unexplored. Lack of awareness and illiteracy has handicapped many people living in these remote areas in the region to treat nature as a fast depleting and endangered resource. And even though they may not even have heard of anything like sustainable development, they live by its each and every principle!
Wildlife film makers Rita Banerji and Shilpi Sharma have succeeded in bringing out a small segment of such an issue from the Northeast region of India. Their film entitled ‘The Wild Meat Trail’ is a 28 minute film highlighting community and individual hunting practices in different parts of Northeast India. Through the film, they have tracked the complex transition of these utility and ritual-based hunting traditions into an increasingly commercial activity geared to generate cash. The film tells the story of an individual, Tarang, who is trying to bring in workable ideas of conservation and sustainability to his village in the Nyishi community of Arunachal Pradesh.
Aimed at drawing attention to the rapidly declining wildlife population in the Northeast, and the possible ways to bring positive change through community-led conservation, the film has won this year’s Green Oscar. Otherwise called Panda Awards in the category of Wildscreen’s Award, these awards are given away to promote film-makers from developing countries. An encouraging step taken by the duo film makers, the film has succeeded in putting the issue the region is currently facing, on a global platform.
Since ages, wild meat hunting and consumption is a way of life in the Northeast. In the film, a young boy kills a monkey for its fur, to be used as a cover for a knife casing – a mark of prestige in the community. It portrays how animals like barking deer, civets, hundreds of birds are sold in the local markets everyday for instant cash. The film explores the role of hunting amongst the communities here and questions the need to study its impacts and if at all is it sustainable.
The Wildscreen Festival is an internationally acknowledged most influential and prestigious event of its kind in the world. Its aim is to celebrate, applaud and encourage excellence and responsibility in wildlife and environmental filmmaking – films which increase the global viewing public’s understanding of the natural world, and the need to conserve it. This year the Wildscreen awards received 446 entries, of which 67 were shortlisted for the final.
Wild Meat Trail is no doubt just the tip of the iceberg, much more is needed to be done and to awake people from their slumbering sleep of indifference and ignorance. More and more conservation initiatives are needed for saving the animals and the rich biodiversity of Northeast India. Let’s hope the Green Oscar will truly make the issue popular among many wildlife conservationists in the region and the world as a whole! And soon necessary steps will be taken to bring sustainable solutions in the region.