- Ezrela Dalidia Fanai
Meet Lalvohbika, a 28-year hunter-turned conservationist from West Phaileng village of Mizoram’s Mamit district who has come a long way in his efforts as a conservator of wildlife in his district.
Born on September 15, 1993, in a hut at his parents’ farm, Lalvohbika like any other boy of West Phaileng attended the government school available in his village.
Talking to Northeast Today, Lalvohbika said, ” As my parents have to work in the fields, earning from the few products of the land, our family’s economic situation was not good. So, at the age of 18, when I was in 8th class, I dropped out of school.”
After he dropped out of school, Lalvohbika searched for jobs in his village. “As I had lots of free time, I used to go hunting whenever I don’t find work. I bought a locally made gun for Rs.700, and that gun along with my dog were my best friends. I had a very contented life those days.”
Vohbika was extremely passionate about hunting. All the free time that he had, be it daytime or night was spent in the forest hunting for all kinds of animals and birds.
“Even though I was just a young lad, I had no fear of the forest. Even during night time, if I had torchlight and a gun, I go hunting for small animals and sleep on trees”, he said.
His favourites were tortoise and monitor lizards. Lalvohbika shot and trapped many of them after which he would cook them and eat his heart out.
On September 1st of 2014, he got an invitation to work as a wildlife guard at Dampa Tiger Reserve.
“As I was so passionate about hunting, the job offer didn’t interest me much. But I joined the post purely for the pay”, Lalvohbika said.
But while working as a wildlife guard, he realised the need for conservation not only at Dampa Tiger Reserve but the whole of Mizoram. “It was during our daily patrol within thee reserve that my passion for conservation began, and I wanted to undergo training in wildlife conservation,” Lalvohbika passionately explained.
His passion led him to Mr. Zakhuma, a famous wildlife photographer in Mizoram who encouraged him to apply for a training programme at Green Hub Centre.
Lalvohbika said that though he could not speak Hindi or English, his determination to know about wildlife conservation pushed him to attend the training against all odds.
He shared that, “At Green Hub, I got training in videography, photography, filmmaking and Wildlife Conservation for 1 year and 4 months. During the course, I concentrated on Wildlife Conservation and even did an editing course in wildlife videography.”
After returning to Mizoram, Lalvohbika said that he had prepared many video documentaries which he feels is the first step in creating awareness among the masses, and in particular, the youths of Mizoram.
Lalvohbika knows every nook and corner of the Dampa Tiger Reserve. He was part of the camera trap team that captured the tiger and the lone elephant in the reserve.
As he is also part of the group that often patrols the reserve, they are often shot at by poachers. This is proof that not only is he passionate about conservation, but he is putting his life on the line.
Lalvohbika dreams that one day, the youths of Mizoram will realise the need to conserve and protect the flora and fauna of the state and start shooting birds and animals with the camera and not with the gun.