Updated: Aug 25, 2020

A Story of Community Conservation Efforts of the Zeliang tribe in Nagaland

Village Benreu, Peren district, Nagaland

Historically home to the Zeliang tribe, Benreu village in the Peren district of Nagaland is the abode of clouds and rains. The average rainfall in the area is 2056 mm, making it one of the favourites of the Rain Gods in the country. Perched at a height of 1950 metres, the surreal Benreu faces the third highest peak of Nagaland, Mout Pauna. From a decent vantage point, one can see the shimmering rice fields in the foothills and the Teipuiki river dividing the glassy landscape into Nagaland and Manipur.

The sub-tropical forests of Mount Pauna are home to some of the most globally threatened species of flora and fauna. Mount Pauna is listed as an Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and Eastern Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA) for its unique avifauna. Besides its natural bounties, the Mount Pauna holds a very special place in the cultural history of the Zeliangs. If the local folklore is to be believed, the 3500 feet high mount Pauna is inhabited by a guardian spirit called Mireuding. Mireuding was siezed from his dying mother’s womb by an old spirit- Sepai to guard the inhabitants of Benreu. Ever since that day, perched atop Pauna, the benevolent spirit of Mireuding hovers over the forest and looks after its village.

Benreu has a good supply of water, almost every household has piped water. However, the picture was starkly different before the pipes were laid by the PHE department here. The sources of water in the village were its springs, which were central to the social and cultural lives of the Zeliang community.