Illegal logging ‘mafia’ stripping hornbill habitat in Northeast India

Illegal logging ‘mafia’ stripping hornbill habitat in Northeast India

On a wet August afternoon in 2015, Jorjo Tana Tara, 48, a member of the indigenous Nyishi community and an anti-logging activist, discovered illegal loggers and poachers at a large salt lick that often hosts elephants from nearby Pakke Tiger Reserve and Kaziranga National Park in the town of Lower Seijosa. The town lies on the border between the remote Northeast Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in a region that is popular for its tea and extraordinary biodiversity. Tara said he had just started recording video of the scene when “a bullet whirred past my temple.” The distress in his voice was apparent as he recalled the event over the phone. “I had my licensed gun with me and fired back two rounds,” he said. “They immediately fled as they were not expecting any retaliation. Whenever I think of that day, I feel really scared for myself and for my family.” This was the second of four such attacks on Tara. But he considers it the price he must pay for daring to take on the powerful illegal logging “mafia” of Northeast India, whose activities are fast emerging as one of the primary forces behind the deforestation of the Eastern Himalayan region. Tara lives in Seijosa, a village located just outside Papum Reserve Forest, a roughly 1,000-square-kilometer (390-square-mile) area of rainforest that is one of the last vestiges of the great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) and the wreathed hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus). The reserve forest is part of the 980,000-km2…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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