Saturday, June 18, 2011

‘Developed’ Garo hills draws eco tourists

Shillong, June 13: The development of Garo hills in Meghalaya has emerged as a favourite destination for eco-tourism. 
Diversity India, an environment protection group, organised the first Amphibian and Reptile India Level meet 2011 in South Garo Hills in collaboration with Samrakshan Trust, a local NGO, working on community-based conservation issues in Garo hills.

The meet that began on June 6 was to specifically discover a variety of species of snakes and frogs. As many as 17 nature enthusiasts from different parts of the country participated in the meet and visited the forests of the Balpakram Baghmara landscape in South Garo Hills from June 6 to June 11. The purpose of the meet was to promote eco-tourism and showcase the rich biodiversity of the landscape.
One of the participants, Abhishek Narayanan, said the trip had revealed the presence of around 10 rare species of snakes and frogs of which around three are endemic to the Garo hills region.

He said this definitely was a boost to tourism and attract more niche tourists in the future. At the culmination of the meet, an educational session was organised in collaboration with Captain Williamson Memorial College, Baghmara.

The vice-principal of the college, Tina M. Sangma, said it was a wonderful beginning. “Continuation of such programmes will encourage the students to come forward to participate in conservation and acquire an improved understanding of their surrounding eco-systems.”
The team spent a few days in Siju and Gongrot eco camps of South Garo Hills initiated by the local community to promote eco-tourism.

These camps which provide accommodation, local cuisine and guides for trekking and sighting wildlife are supported by Samrakshan Trust.

Diversity India has scheduled a butterfly meet in October next. The landscape has so far been recognised for the high diversity of butterflies with existing records of 320 species. More than 100 nature enthusiasts have visited the landscape to view butterflies and other natural treasures since March this year.

The spokesperson for Samrakshan Trust, Kamal Medhi, said it initiated eco tourism in Garo hills to involve local community to conserve the forests. “Eco tourism could be a meaningful econo-mic incentive programme to encourage locals for conservation for sustainable livelihoods.”

The eco-tourism areas have been specific to Gongrot and Siju in South Garo Hills which is under tremendous pressure from coal mining.

Full Story : The Telegraph

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