Voices against Hunting Ritual Get Shriller as Forest Fire Rages
Regular incidents of forest fire in Koraput and Jeypore divisions have led to large scale destruction of green cover and wildlife and also exposed the authorities’ failure in preventing the tribals from practising rituals which are suspected to be the cause of this colossal loss.
As part of their Chaitra festival rituals, people belonging to Kondh, Paraja, Didayi, Bonda, Koya, Durura, Bhumiya, Bhotra, Pentia and Soura tribes and other primitive communities go on hunting sprees. The tribals set fire in forest to drive wild animals out so that they can hunt them.
Though the festival has been banned, the tribals continue to practise the hunting ritual putting the wild animals and forest cover in danger. In absence of strict vigil by the forest officials, the ‘bento’ (hunting) ritual of the tribals is now at its peak.
Though forest fire continues to rage in several pockets of Potangi, Nandapur, Narayanpatana, Bandhgam, Laxmipur, Jeypore, Kotpad, Boipariguda and Borrigumma, the concerned officials are yet to review the situation and draw up measures for protection of forest cover and wild animals. Several green activists complained that thousands of precious plants have already perished and wild animals died due to the fire that goes unchecked. They have called for urgent measures to prevent forest fire.
“What is more concerning is that while the fire destroys miles of forest cover, lack of awareness on part of the locals has added to the problem,” said J Ramesh, a green activist of Koraput.
As per the norms, the Forest department should call local village forest committees well before the Chaitra festival to create awareness on forest cover and protection of wildlife, said a local. But it was not done properly resulting in large scale destruction of forest cover, he added.
However, in several Naxal affected areas, the tribals could not go for hunting due to combing operation of the para military forces.
When contacted, Forest officials claimed that the hunting practice and occurrence of forest fire have been checked and no fresh case has been reported to the department.
Meanwhile, different NGOs and green activists of the region have appealed to the State Government to take serious note of annual hunting ritual of the tribals and come up with a permanent solution to stop the practice.