7th June, 2015, somewhere on the boundary of Intanki National Park (Peren, Nagaland)
A short walk scouting for a place to set up a new small mammal trapping grid led to an unexpected meeting with a local hunter. He was from an adjacent village, and was heading into the forest to examine his traps. My field assistant and I tagged along. As I walked, I dreaded finding a wild animal inside the trap. What should I do then? What could I do? Nothing, the animal would most likely be dead by the time we reached...
Within half an hour of the boundary, we came upon a long wooden fence stretching along the crest of a tiny hill. A trap had been set up every 250 meters along the fence. "How did you manage to build such a long fence here, in the middle of nowhere?", I asked astonished. Of course, 'nowhere' is not really an accurate way to judge distances for villagers here, who walk two hours to reach the nearest town for even the most basic supplies. "Well I had help", he grinned through his browned cracked teeth. "My neighbors helped me set it up. Together we lugged these big heavy logs to build the traps. Heavy logs are essential. See how the trap is designed so that the wood will fall upon whatever tries to cross the fence." "Gosh that must have been expensive!" "No, I will help them out some other time", he replied nonchalantly. "How long did it take?" "Three weeks maybe". The concept of time in the region is highly variable, and I realized the futility of my question. "What have you caught so far?" "In the past twenty days? Horin, suvar, billi". My assistant explained it meant deer (likely barking deer), wild pig and some cat. "What cat?" "No not cat, civet. And a pair of yellow throated martens", elaborated my assistant. "I check my traps every day. Otherwise the meat will rot", he explained. "Will you be coming here everyday?" "No", I said, "my sampling grid will be closer to the river". He smiled a smile that crinkled up his browned face and lit up his dark eyes, took the Parle G we offered, and started the hour long trip back to his village.