I have been following Bikram Grewal and his travels across India.Travelogues from environmentalists are always worthy of note. Here is his journey through a quaint village Khonoma, approximately 20 kms southwest of Kohima, capital of Nagaland. He narrates what led him to overcome his initial skepticism of viewing only a few birds. His experience changed his opinion on the avian wealth of Nagaland.

Read more here. Snippets from his article.

Nagaland today, in many ways, is a world without life – miles and miles of countryside are enveloped in eerie silence with all life forms having found their way into the cooking pot over the years.

Crested Finchbill: Image source: www.kolkatabirds.com

Crested Finchbill: Image source: http://www.kolkatabirds.com

Over three days of birding in the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS) and the Dzülekie area, 30 kms away, we were rewarded with sightings of such rarities like the Rusty-capped Fulvetta (Alcippe dubia), Large Niltava (Niltava grandis), Red-faced Liocichla (Liocichla phoenicea), Mountain Bamboo Partridge (Bambusicola fytchii), Long-tailed Wren Babbler (Spelaeornis chocolatinus), White-browed Piculet (Sasia ochracea) and the Crested Finchbill (Spizixox canifrons).

Niltava: Image source: www.fatbirder.com

Niltava: Image source: http://www.fatbirder.com

The Khonoma experiment is unique in the wildlife conservation annals of Nagaland. For forest-dependent people who now voluntarily create a safe haven for wildlife and aggressively protect the denizens, this is nothing short of a miracle.

Here the farmers use Alder (Alnus nepalensis) trees interspersed with the crops. These trees return nitrogen to the soil, thereby helping the land to rapidly regain fertility when farmers abandon it to move onto the next plot. Khonoma today is an oasis surrounded by a great wildlife desert. The success of the experiment is bound to influence neighbours and it may be a matter of time before the culture of scientific wildlife and habitat management spreads across the valley.