Speaker: Dr Sahil Nijhawan, University College London
"Tiger is our brother and musk deer is our diamond": Multiple dimensions of hunting sustainability in the Idu Mishmi of Northeast India.
Studies on biological sustainability of hunting often produce misleading results because they use a) simplistic population growth models; b) inaccurate data on wildlife abundance; and c) fail to conceptualize hunting as a multi-faceted issue deeply embedded within people’s social lives. Dr. Nijhawan addresses each of these issues using long-term ecological and anthropological data from the Idu Mishmi community of Northeast India. In particular, he uses a novel gas theory-based approach to estimate abundance of shy, hunted species from camera trapped data. He shows that Idu hunting is sustainable because of a complex interplay of species ecology, land tenure, settlement history and Idu understandings of different species. He also highlights the nuanced role of culture in protecting commercially-valuable species, such as the tiger, even under rising external demand.