Northeast India is a biodiversity hotspot housing some of the most exotic plant and animal life. One such interesting spot is Arunachal Pradesh’s Ziro. Recently, India’s first wild orchid conservation trail was inaugurated at Pange, 15 km from Ziro, which is the gateway to the Talle Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. It was organised by Ngunu Ziro, a community-based NGO set up in 2009. The founder Hibu Tatu believes in promoting sustainable development and manages five homestays in the region. Part of the income from the homestay is invested in community development.
Ngunu Ziro has been promoting the rich culture of the Apatanis, one of the 26 tribes found in this region, by documenting their homes and celebrating their festivals. “In March, we celebrate the Myoko festival which focuses on themes of fertility and prosperity. The Dree festival in July is celebrated to ensure a bountiful harvest by offering prayers to the Gods. During Dree, folk songs are sung along with dancing and during this time we get a lot of tourists,” says Tatu.
Ziro’s geographical location makes it a haven for butterflies with some of them endemic to the region. To promote butterfly tourism Tatu has been conducting ‘Butterfly Meets’ for the last couple of years. “The fifth edition of the Ziro Butterfly Meet was held at Yazali in September 2018 with the ‘Butterfly Man of India’ Isaac Kehimkar joining us. The most important butterflies of Ziro are the Kaiser-e-hind, Bhutan Glory, Brown Gorgon and Himalayan Scar Evening Brown with the first three butterflies never being found together anywhere, except in Ziro,” says the 61-year-old.
The orchid trail has been evoking great interest. “The inspiration came from a book, The Orchids of Ziro: Arunachal Pradesh, authored by Naresh Swami. We cooperated and helped the authorities set up the trail, which was inaugurated by Arunachal Pradesh’s Forests and Environment Minister Nabam Rebia. There are 150 varieties of orchids to be found in this 1.5km trail, which has become a great trekking spot,” explains Tatu.