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Sanctuary Grant For Naga Hunter Turned Conservationist

Sanctuary Grant For Naga Hunter Turned Conservationist

The Sanctuary Nature Foundation is pleased to announce the release of a monetary grant worth Rs. 50,000/- from its flagship Mud on Boots Project to grassroots conservationist Alemba Yimchunger from Nagaland.

Alemba smiles in his traditional Naga finery.

Fifty-year-old Alemba has worked as a Camp Guide for the Forest Department of the Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary for the past three decades.  Born in Fakim village at the eastern end of Nagaland, he grew up hunting wildlife in the rich forests around his village, as is culturally-expected amongst many tribes in northeast India. However, as the years turned, Alemba became increasingly distressed by the dwindling wildlife in the region. In the 1980s, the young Naga defied cultural norms by giving up hunting and subsequently joined the Fakim Forest Department to help conserve the stunning biodiversity of his home.

His 30 years of service to the Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary have won Alemba the respect of senior forest officials and researchers alike. He has been instrumental to the success of numerous expeditions and conservation initiatives in and around Fakim, including the conservation planting of Cephalotaxus mannii, a threatened species of tree; the distribution of solar lamps, seedlings and poultry to members of the community; camera-trapping exercises; and guiding and hosting researchers from across the country. In fact, Alemba served as a guide to Dr. N. Odyuo, a Scientist from the Botanical Survey of India, who discovered a plant species new to science in the area.

Alemba along with other forest guards fixes a camera trap. Photo: Satem Lonchar

Despite his extensive knowledge of regional biodiversity and long years of work in the Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary, Alemba Yimchunger earns a salary of just Rs. 3,450/- a month and is yet to be regularised into the fold of the Forest Department. “It takes uncommon courage to hold so steady a course in the face of such hardships, and yet, after all these decades, he still walks the forest with his enthusiasm untainted, his passion undiminished. Alemba Yimchunger represents the first generation of wildlife conservationists from Nagaland, and for many young researchers and Forest Department staff who visit the area, he has been and continues to be a perennial source of inspiration,” said Dr. Rohit Naniwadekar, a Scientist with the Nature Conservation Foundation, of Alemba’s exceptional attitude and commitment to conservation.

The financial support extended to Alemba is in recognition of his three-decades of conservation work, with the hope that it will ease some of the financial strain that he faces. “The Mud on Boots Project was established to empower and support grassroots warriors like Alemba. Identifying such unsung heroes would be impossible without the help of our trusted network of scientists and conservationists, and we would like to thank Shashank Dalvi, Dr. Rohit Naniwadekar and Lansothung Lotha for bringing Alemba’s work to our attention,” said Cara Tejpal who heads the Mud on Boots Project for Sanctuary.

To learn more about Alemba Yimchunger, watch this short film on Youtube.

To donate to the Mud on Boots Project and support other conservationists like Alemba, write to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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