SHILLONG: In a heartwarming collaboration, two tribal communities in Meghalaya have found a dedicated ally in their mission to conserve the endangered Western Hoolock Gibbon. A local coffee and chocolate producer from Meghalaya has pledged its commitment to the cause.
Dasumarlin Majaw, the proprietor of Smoky Falls Coffee, said, “We are officially launching the conservation initiative at the World Coffee Conference and Expo, a world-class event for coffee and coffee producers, in Bengaluru on Tuesday. We are excited to be working on something new,” she stated.
This collaborative conservation project was initiated by Nagakarthik, founder of the Sauramangala Foundation, who envisioned the combination of Meghalaya’s finest coffee and cocoa with conservation efforts for the endangered gibbons. According to Majaw, her perspective changed when she visited the Huro Foundation project in Garo Hills last month and witnessed the dire need for the gibbons’ protection.
Locally known as “Huro” in the Garo community, the gibbons are scattered across various forests in Garo Hills, with some housed at the Sonja Wildlife Rescue Centre after being rescued from captivity. In a significant move, the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) formally designated a village wildlife reserve in Selbalgre village, West Garo Hills district, as a protected habitat for the Huros.
In East Khasi Hills district, approximately 300 kilometers away from Selbalgre, communities in Hima Malai Sohmat have been diligently working on the conservation of the Hulengs, as Hoolock Gibbons are locally called. In 2019, the Malai Sohmat dorbar banned hunting and killing of Hulengs in community forests across five villages. Since then, these communities have been exploring alternative livelihoods, including eco-tourism, to reduce tree cutting.
In a bid to raise awareness about Huleng conservation, a cycling competition was organised in Dewkhaid’s village last year. Organized by Shillong-based Ian and Gary, the event attracted cyclists from the state’s capital and other regions. Participants received T-shirts and calendars containing information about the Hulengs.
This alliance between Smoky Falls Coffee, the tribal communities, and conservationists promises to be a significant step forward in safeguarding the Western Hoolock Gibbon population in Meghalaya while offering sustainable livelihood opportunities to local residents.