As he looks to the future, Kezhaseria Meyase, a 37-year-old resident of Khonoma, expresses confidence in the youth of the village. “They are well aware of the importance of conserving our forests and wildlife,” he says. For the first time since the creation of the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS) in 1998, tourism in Khonoma has come to a halt. In 2019, the remote 700-year-old village in the Indian state of Nagaland, near the Indo-Myanmar border, received more than 4,000 visitors. Nearly a fifth of the tourists were from overseas, drawn to Khonoma’s rich biodiversity and conservation success (in 2005, it was named India’s first “green village”). The 20 sq km (7.7 sq mile) sanctuary, consisting of dense subtropical and temperate broadleaf forests, is the first formally conserved community sanctuary in India. It is home to several vulnerable mammal species, including the clouded leopard, Asiatic black bear and hoolock gibbon; and villagers have recorded more than 300 avian species. BirdLife International recognises the sanctuary as one of the 555 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in India, and the Blyth’s tragopan, a large pheasant which is the state bird of Nagaland, thrives in the higher reaches of KNCTS. Khonoma, like… Read full this story
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