Hornbills are an important cultural symbol for many tribes in the north-east, yet they are threatened by hunting and habitat loss. Wild hornbill populations have drastically declined across most of north-east India. Among all the north-eastern states, the five species of hornbills are more abundant in Arunachal Pradesh due to higher forest cover and lower human population pressures.
As early as 2003, the Nyishis in Seijosa realized that hornbills were fast vanishing from Arunachal Pradesh. The forests of Pakke Tiger Reserve and the adjoining hills were one of the few places left in Arunachal Pradesh where hornbills could be seen easily, yet habitat loss was occurring and hunting was prevalent. The first step they took was banning hornbill hunting. From 2003 onwards, the local Forest Department and Wildlife Trust of India worked with the local community to distribute artificial beaks and gradually these have replaced the original ones. After 2006, Mr. Tana Tapi took over as the park manager and took steps to win the support of the local community for wildlife conservation. These included different eco-development initiatives and employing more than 140 youth from the area in the Special Tiger Protection Force. The Ghora Aabhe Society, a society of village headmen from the different villages in the area was formed in 2006. This association of village headmen became partners in wildlife conservation often conducting awareness campaigns, encouraging the local people to surrender their guns among other activities.
The conservation efforts of the management of Pakke Tiger Reserve (Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department), the Ghora-Aabhe Society, the Nyishi community around Pakke Tiger Reserve as well as NGOs working in the area has resulted in Pakke becoming known as a haven for hornbills.
We hope that through this festival there is not only increased pride and support for the conservation efforts in and around Pakke TR, but it will also encourage other communities across North-east India to participate in conservation efforts. Your visit to the area during this festival would enthuse local people in the area and boost tourism indirectly providing greater interest and support for conservation among members of the local community