"In central India, the value of tigers is undeniable – culturally, ecologically, and economically. Kanha National Park (KNP) typifies the central Indian tiger landscape with high densities of tribal local populations, a globally recognized node for tiger conservation and ecotourism within a rapidly urbanizing countryside. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) set out a policy that has resulted in largely tribal human communities moving out of core tiger habitat (1). Around 850 households moved out of KNP (from 2011- to 2014) with monetary compensation, providing an opportunity to explore what happens after."
Amrita Neelakantan summarizes a recent paper for Science Trends. Read more here!
Pardhis are a nomadic community that since the time of the Mughal emperors, have been hired to help in shikar (hunting), whether it was for sport for the British or for the royal kitchens of the ‘zameendars’ (landowners). However, due to combined efforts of the Forest Department and NGO’s, a large part of the population has given up hunting. Thus, ‘Walk with the Pardhis’, an initiative undertaken by Last Wilderness Foundation in association with Taj Safaris and Forest Department, Panna Tiger Reserve not only encourages this reformation, but also aims at providing an alternative source of livelihood for the community members while utilizing their already existing skill sets.
The crux of the venture is to go on an experiential walk in the wilderness with the people of the forest wherein, you will be privy to the age old knowledge of the Pardhi community members along with some spectacular stories from the forest. This initiative is also bound to help you reconnect with the wilderness, as well as help ‘read’ the forest as the Pardhis do, where the trained Pardhi guide will lead a nature trail for tourists, students or nature enthusiasts on a designated trail/ route in Panna.
To know more about this trail, or to go on a walk with the community members, please write to us at – email@example.com
The Corbett Foundation (TCF) has been working in Bandhavgarh-Sanjay Dubri Corridor (BSDC), an important forested landscape that connects Bandhavgarh and Sanjay tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh. Despite being an important connecting corridor of these tiger reserves, awareness about tiger and overall biodiversity conservation in quite low among the villages of BSDC. Community dependence on the forest in BSDC for cattle grazing, firewood collection and collection of minor forest products is very high. There have also been cases of tiger deaths from BSDC in the past raising suspicions about poaching. All this has a direct link to a lack of awareness about the need to conserve the forests and wildlife among the local communities.
Unless the level awareness is raised, it is difficult to expect success in conservation and protection of flora-fauna. Therefore, TCF felt a pressing need to spread environmental awareness among the student community to make them realize the seriousness of the issues at hand.
To bridge this gap, TCF has published a 116-page pictorial booklet titled Hamare Van, Hamare Gaon providing an overall insight about the local biodiversity of BSDC, its ecological values and the need for its conservation. The language of this first-of-its-kind publication purposefully has been kept as hindi so that the contents of the publication and the important conservation message therein reaches to as many schools in BSDC and in Bandhavgarh and Sanjay-Dubri tiger reserves.
Over 27-28th April 2019, Amrita had a pop-up of her new venture, Black Orchid, at Artists & Fleas (A&F) in Williamsburg and got the chance to see if Brooklyn loved making clothes from scraps as much as her. What ensued was a two day long conversation of what it means to be part of slow fashion and where it could take us. Sarika brought with her the final piece of this conversation, about how what we buy affects both people and nature in far off places, by sharing her work and selling tribal jewelry.
Creating things is fun and we seldom value the process enough in our daily lives. What better way to discuss our work, being mindful consumers and sustainability of our resources than to directly meet people at markets. Amrita and Sarika got a chance to do exactly that at the melting-pot that is A&F on Saturday with the Smorgasburg in full flow. Tourists from many different countries who came through the pop-ups got a glimpse of the work we do in our lab, conservation in central India, and #whatascientistlookslike when they are also a maker / crafter / doing outreach! Apart from tourists, they had interest from other makers (on their own journey in being conscious consumers), friends and family.
By Jennie Miller, John Linnell, Vidya Athreya and Subharanjan Sen
This article is an outcome of discussions at the Central Indian Landscape Symposium (CILS) in December 2016 during the session on Coexistence Between People and Wildlife.
Wildlife managers and other conservation practitioners represent the wildlife they manage or research. When wildlife damages people’s property or affects the lives of family and friends, these authorities are often required to step beyond their areas of expertise and training to address the needs of people. Managing people well—especially in sensitive situations when they have faced a serious personal loss to wildlife—is critical to conserving wildlife.
But how exactly do you explain to a stranger that her husband has been mauled by a sloth bear, or tell a farmer that a tiger has devoured his cow on which he relies for his sustenance? Local people’s interactions with the administration—often considered a representation of wildlife itself—start with the way in which people are treated as they receive the news of such losses. These moments can be traumatic and emotionally charged, especially when it is a human life that has been lost. The households wrestling with these losses are then often expected to carry out long protracted procedures to claim financial compensation payments, a process which again defines their view of the larger administrative and governmental system, as well as shapes their future willingness to engage with wildlife authorities and tolerate the proximity of wildlife.
In such contexts, a conservation practitioner’s “people skills” play a critical, yet currently underappreciated, role. In that fraught moment, the individual who represents the authority is seen as a custodian of the wildlife species causing the loss (livestock, crop or human). They also take on another, greater role, that of a human being reacting to the loss of another human, one that requires empathy, humility, and respect. Some people possess these skills naturally and make for very effective wildlife managers with little need for further training. For others, these skills need to be taught and fostered by institutional culture. However, training in dealing with people in trauma and conflict has not been an important part of the curriculum for conservation biologists, practitioners, and wildlife managers. In this article, we build on our collective experiences as conservation professionals to discuss strategies related to public relations that could better equip researchers, forest administrations, and other conservation practitioners in caring for people as well as wildlife.
Read the full article in the Economic and Political Weekly (free on ResearchGate).
Project Spotlight highlights our members' work in Central India.
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