Nagaland The Road Less Taken

The search for an endangered turtle in Nagaland leads to bad roads
Nagaland The Road Less Taken
Nagaland The Road Less Taken

"Oww...are...we...there...owww...yet When your sentences come out like this, you know you are truly offroading. I was in Nagaland for a wildlife feature. And this was an unplanned offroading outing. You see, we had expected roads where there were none. Lets jog back to how I got here...

For a wildlife enthusiast like me, the discovery of an erstwhile extinct in the wild turtle species was big news. It was also the reason I was on my way to the Wozhu Tsophow wetlands near Akuk village in Wokha. In search of the freshwater, black, soft-shell turtle, our team took the well-known route to what is now the only existing natural habitat of these turtles Dimapur-Kohima-Wokha-Akuk. And then, the rains came. But what harm could a little precipitation do, right Not much to good roads, but when the entire route has disintegrated into a bed of rocks, a downpour can be catastrophic. Optimistic headlines about Northeast tourism have been a regularity of late. So I was very surprised to find such abysmal connectivity between two prominent districts, Kohima and Wokha.

On the way to Akuk village in Wokha

We reached Wokha late on the third day, avoiding landslides on the way. After a long ride the next day, we reached Akuk only to be told by the local guides that a trek to the wetlands looked improbable. Akuk and the wetlands are definitely not places unheard of or uninhabited, but road development seems to have skipped these areas entirely. I had gone to Nagaland to look for some rare turtles that could, one day, bring hordes of tourists to the state. But I could not reach their only natural habitat because of the roads (or the absence of one). Sometimes, the road less taken is less taken for a reason, Mr Frost.

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