What killed the Python?

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By: Deben Sharma
[box type=”quote” color=”green” size=”small” align=”right”] No law or Act on protection of wild life, in place, saved the reptile, neither any environmentally aware local initiative worked in difference to the cultural tradition of targeting the Python as priced catch to celebrate and rejoice[/box]A rare species of Python 12 ft long, gracefully beautiful, came in the fire line of a hunter’s gun somewhere 33 kms from Ukhrul town in Manipur. I just wished Python did not appear at all or disappeared suddenly. Alash! that was not to be! It is gone for ever for our children never to see again. It was shocking but a joyous event in that remote community to share the kill, so valued, to the taste of the cultural tradition.
What missed the point? No law or Act on protection of wild life, in place, saved the reptile, neither any environmentally aware local initiative worked in difference to the cultural tradition of targeting the Python as priced catch to celebrate and rejoice.

Yet, neither a python waited for a hunter or a hunter chance upon a python every now and then but for the belief in the medicinal value. And, perhaps for the new found commercial tag the rare animal carried on its head and hide for the elites that got the whole of the length: head and tale intact all the way to Ukhrul town for a display in the market but not in a formalin jar.

It seems to have simply disappeared in digestion channels without a trace to discover as though it never existed but to tell the story – the Python walked into the traditional cooking pot for the belief in better health!
Do the Pythons walk into every cooking pot?  Nay, no wild animal are banned to walk into the traditional pot in the neighboring Angamis Village, Khonoma – the birth place of Legendary figure AZ Phizo. Few years ago, the Village Council of Khonoma resolved to ban hunting within the village territory and notified to all citizens of the village. The law was enforced with vigilance and fines. Youth society of the village felt the Village law was in contravention to their youthful hunting adventures, the technologies, skills and practices handed over to them from their elders – the traditional ways of life.

When the village council realized the displeasures of the youth, they immediately acted upon. Series of meetings were held with the youth in the village to reason out why there was a need to change the tradition and tame their hunting instincts. Youth finally agreed and became part of village the prohibitory law enforcement agency to give wild animals a chance to live their lives free from fears and to prevent them walking into the cooking pot in their ignorance. The Village Chief in his recent visit to Imphal shared their new found joy in the village with number of wild species returning to house in the reserve forests of the community in their increasing population in the village territory.

Children in the village wake up the calls and musical nodes of different birds and animals early in the morning, everyday to set out to schools. Still earlier, Nagaland state Government was more proactive to put a state-wide ban on hunting wild animals in close cooperation with Village councils. How far the law has been followed is different question.

In the meantime, prosperity comes to Khonoma village. The conscious  decisions of the village elders to preserve their traditional cultural heritage, which cradled historic events and personalities, have brought dividend to the village by the inflow of tourists. But what has raised the curiosities of people from outside, even more, is their stories of befriending with the wild animals, managing the ecology rather than becoming a problem to it, and living in the cozy comforts of their natural environment. The days are much nearer, when every sound in the forest will sleep in silence in our hills, not even the pitter-patter of the rain drops to hear, then, we will go to Khonoma village, on educational tours with our children, to chat with the monkeys, to sing with the birds, and to play horse ridding on or wrestle with big fat Python friends in lap of natural environment.

On our return journey we will answer what killed the Python.

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