By Rita Banerji
Wild meat hunting and consumption is an integral part of the life of communities in the north east of India. Open wild meat markets exist in different towns and cities across the states. A hoopoe bird for Rs. 400, a giant squirrel for Rs 500, a barking deer for Rs 6000…while the forest seems devoid of wildlife, what you see in the markets is an indicator of what still remains.
We first came to the Northeast in 2002 to film the story of orphaned bear cubs being rehabilitated into the wild in Pakke National Park in Arunachal Pradesh. As we followed them over the years, the bears became central to many of the thoughts concerning this region:The bears were orphans of hunting. So, was their survival in the wild even possible as long as hunting exists? How widespread was this practice? Was it tradition or trade? Was it sustainable? What was the future of wildlife here?
THE WILD MEAT TRAIL is a quest to get some insight into the the extent of the hunting practices and its place in the current cultural context. It is a journey through the Northeast of India – travelling from small towns to remote villages, trekking though wild terrains, participating in village rituals, talking to sellers and consumers – in an attempt to develop some understanding of the state of the wildlife and whether there is another path possible. Video.