Manipur has a number of reasons to be in focus. From rare and endemic wildlife, geographical features to its interesting food culture, Manipur never fails to amaze us. Keeping that tradition in mind, we bring you the story of citrus indica or the Indian wild orange from Dailong village in Tamenglong district of Manipur. This rare and endangered species was earlier reported only to be found in Nokrek Biosphere Reserve in Meghalaya.
It doesn't come as a surprise that Dailong village is one of the 12 Biodiversity Heritage Sites in India. Before we go any further, it is important to know the meaning of biodiversity heritage. Biodiversity sites are those sites that have rich and unique biological and ethnic features. They are of great historical values and are by nature, a fragile ecosystem.
Home to the Rongmei Nagas, Dailong is one of the oldest villages in Tamenglong district. Dailong may be a new name to most people, but what was not new to Dailong was the concept of forest conservation. The villagers have been practicing conservation activities for many generations now and have sacred groves called 'Raengan'. These protected forests are home to many endemic and rare plant species. One such rare specimen is citrus indica or the Indian wild orange. Locally, the species is called Biurengthai. Once abundant, the species now faces the danger of extinction because of the destruction of forest.
According to researchers, Indian wild orange is the most primitive ancestor to all cultivated citrus fruits in the world Thanks to a research by Dr. R.K. Birjit Singh of Centre for Conservation of Nature & Cultivation of Science (CCNCS), Manipur, we now know that Longku forest of Dailong village is home to many species of plants and animals/amphibians most people are oblivious about. Citrus indica is one such example.
As our species have already proved that it doesn't take much effort to wipe out an entire species, be it from the plant or animal kingdom, after the discovery of these wild oranges, we are now witnessing their rather rapid journey towards extinction. Spreading the word on the importance of conservation has become the need of the hour.
Local wildlife warriors of Tamenglong, an NGO by the name of Rainforest Club Tamenglong, Dailong Ecology & Environment Preservation Society (DEEPS, a local NGO established in 1978) along with other environmentally concerned individuals, are doing what they can to spread the word of awareness among the locals of Dailong and neighbouring villages.
The Indian wild oranges are the pride and joy of Manipur and it deserves more attention.