Of a fire on Mount Japfü
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t is most unfortunate that a major fire has engulfed Mount Japfü, the highest peak in Kohima district and the second highest in the Naga Hills after Mount Saramati on the Kiphire Nagaland-Myanmar international border.
The cause was not necessarily due to arson. Rather it is believed to have been ignited from a spark left unattended by reckless trekkers from behind the peak towards Dzükou.
The Japfü peak is 3,048 metres above meansea level. This peak lies 15 km away from Kohima and is popular among trekkers and adventure enthusiasts who undertake adventure pursuits seasonally. Terraced farms along National Highway 39 grab the attention of tourists.Sub-tropical forests in the mountain range possess the tallest Rhododendron tree that has entered the Guinness Book of World Records. The dense woodlands provide shelter to several birds, animals and reptiles. Blythe’s Tragopan (Tragopan Blythü) along with other hill birds inhabits the region.
Apart from bird watching and exploring woodlands, tourists can have a glimpse of Naga culture at the villages situated nearby. These include Jakhama, Kigwema, Viswema, and Phesama.
As such, Mount Japfü and its adjoining Dzükou Valley are prized Naga possessions and income generating sources from tourists be they locals, domestic Indians or even foreigners. Mountaineers, would-be mountaineers, or simply enthusiastic trekkers can find some time as a change from the daily grind of their day to day lives or simply for the adventure of it.
Legends abound in connection Japfü Mountain. The hitherto “Kacha Nagas” (now what would be the Zeliangs) and Semas claim their origins from this area. If any anthropologist were to be really interested, he/she would uncover a horde of interesting legends.
As of now, we are sadly reminded of the lack of civic sense among most of our citizens. Presently, there is some sort of norms required to climb up the twin peaks of Mount Japfü. Whatever affects the pristine nature of this mountain also directly affects Dzükou Valley which is a place of scenic beauty ideal for trekking or hiking
The Dzükou river flows through this valley adding to blessings of the mother nature, and nudging the state.
Lying partly in Nagaland and Manipur, the valley is located at a height of 2438 mts. above sea level. It is home to varied vegetation including the endemic Dzükou Lily.
Like any community in times of disaster, concerned departments, organizations and individuals rushed to Kigwema to assess the situation when fire and smoke engulfed the peak. Officials from forest department, teams of state disaster management authority, army personnel from Jakhama and Chakhabama, police personnel from Khuzama went to give a hand. Parliamentary Secretary Er Vikho-o Yhoshu, SDO(O) Jakhama and officials of Southern Angami Public Organisation (SAPO), Southern Angami Youth Organisation SAYO) and Kigwema Youth Organisation (KYO) also rushed there.
Although whatever possible was done on Friday, the fire had spread beyond control. Youth of Kigwema Village along with officials and members of AYO, SAYO and SAPO will attempt to climb the peak and find possible means to control the fire. However, the raging fire if not controlled will incinerate abundant natural wealth and have greater implications in the micro-climate of the area according to the DFP (District Forest Officer). In addition to the flora the lives of whatever fauna residing in the area would also be adversely affected.
Henceforth, the need arises as to the imposition of more stringent code of conduct for those wishing to climb up Mount Japfü and trekking through Dzükou. For this, an office may be arranged by the authorities concerned so that entries regarding purpose, duration, addresses, occupations of the adventurers and their phone numbers may be duly recorded. The adventurers must also be made to carry some basic first aid kit.
This can be undertaken by the Forest department in conjunction with the village authorities concerned or vice versa and various logistical requirements in this connection may be met through some nominal fees from the adventurers.
This by no means is to merely catch our reckless youngsters on the wrong foot but also to ensure that they can get timely assistance in case of (heaven forbid) accident or any other unforeseen tragedy. Plus there should be written rules and regulations and proper authority delegated for the same.
This would go a long way to ensure safety for the adventurers and our natural habitats. To paraphrase the well known adage, “Prevention” is the best way to manage forest fires.