Kullu Deities Turn Protectors Of Forests And Wildlife

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Manali: Director of World Natural Heritage Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) disclosed that they had  found a unique way to enforce a complete full ban on illegal felling of the trees and poaching by involving the intervention of  local deities. Rana said after successful attempt in remote Shakti and Maror villages where villagers surrendered their illegal guns before God Brahma, now it’s turn of Shangarh and Suchain panchayats where a pledge before God Shangchul Mahadev as observer beckons the villagers to adhere to the promises they make in conserving the  park areas.

A large number of people of Shangarh and Suchain panchayats of Sainj valley in Kullu, adjacent to GHNP, gathered at Shangarh ground in front of Shangchul Mahadev temple on the call of GHNP director  Rana and promised not to involve in poaching and not to let any poacher enter the area. Villagers also promised to protect the forest cover. The area is infamous for poaching of the wild animals and birds, most of which are very rare or under threat. The region is home to black bear, brown bear, snow leopards, monal, western tragopan and many other rare species.

illagers surrender guns in front of their deity and wildlife officials in Great Himalayan National Park in January 2014 (File photo)

Villagers surrender guns in front of their deity and wildlife officials in Great Himalayan National Park in January 2014 (File photo)

Rana told Hill Post, “The stats are surprising that poaching in the middle of national park has almost finished since villagers of Shakti and Maror had surrendered their guns in January 2014 and promised not to let any hunter kill beautiful birds and animals. We had involved Brahma Devta, the esteemed deity of the region. Now, Shangchul Mahadev Devta is involved in the fresh effort to protect forests and wildlife in Shangarh area. As people have firm faith in deities, I am sure the region will witness sharp drop in illegal activities”.

Shangarh panchayat pradhan Savitra Devi, up-pradhan Ved Ram, all ward members, Suchain panchayat pradhan Revati Devi and officials of forest and wildlife department were also present when villagers give assurance to the deity. The wonder happened due to efforts of Rana, who is also a key in getting the park UNESCO world heritage tag.

“The national park and its surrounding areas have comparatively thick population of wildlife. We are experimenting with various technologies to stop poaching, including high-tech trap cameras. We are working on a project to install an electronic eye, a powerful camera mounted on a high tower in the middle of the park. But even the technologies are successful only when local people become protectors. And people, with the mediation of deities, are understanding their duties,” Rana added.

Shangchul Mahadev temple ground Kullu

He said that next mission would be in Gushaini area where he and his team will request each and every villager to become savior of forests and wildlife. The local deity will again become the witness to promises made by villagers. After getting world heritage tag, tourism is also growing in the area, Rana is giving villagers lessons on eco-tourism. He is giving priority to the people of eco-zones to become successful tourist guides and carry out their eco-friendly tourism business. Officials are leaving no stone unturned to protect wildlife in GHNP, the home to many rare and endangered species.

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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