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The race is on: Tiger vs Man in the forests of India

Locals being axed of their ancestral lands to safeguard a tiger habitat

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Tiger vs Man in the forests of India, credits-pixabay
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Bhubaneshwar, Feb 27, 2017: In the Similipal forests, man and tiger co-exist in huge numbers. The race is now on to see which animal will win supremacy on their ‘home’.

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The indigenous villages are ripped off their rights fighting against the tigers with more clout.

Sanghamitra Dubey, an activist with an informal Indian advocacy group for forestry rights asked, “Why are indigenous people being asked outright to leave without even attempting to explore reasonable options of coexistence with wildlife?”, mentioned a report on Similipal forests by Thompson Reuters Foundation.

Dubey further highlighted the stripping of the ancestral lands of the people to protect the shrinking number of tigers and how it led to the extinction of the traditional ways of life, like the old rope plaiting technique.

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Nearly half the estimated 3200 tigers of the world are found in India, in dozens of different reserves built since the 1970s.

The tiger has more cloat than the human, Source: Pixabay

Wildlife tourism serves as a growing money maker for the country. However, conservationists continue to debate if the tourists encroach their habitat or help protect the species.

The relocation process:-

Notice: last November, to protect the Tiger habitat in the forests, hundreds of families from about 44 different villages were asked to relocate.

Anup Kumar Nayak, a senior forest officer in Bhubaneswar said, “relocations are voluntary but a number of villages around Similipal were in the ‘core’ habitat zone or so close they were “as good as inside it” and would need to move. Only the Buffer zone is for human-animal coexistence.”

Only months ago had the villagers acquired rights to the 25000 hectares of woodland area.

The Forest Rights Act of 2006 permits Tribal Households to harvest and utilize the forest resources for maintenance of their ancestral lands.

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One-off Settlement: A visit by the Park Officials was reported by the villagers in November, offering them a one-off payment to evacuate their homes and lands to clear the forest lands under human activity.

Tribandha Barja, a villager reported that most of the people refused the offer. “(They told us) take one million rupees keep it in the bank and live better with the bank interest,” Barja said.

Dubey also commented that 50 families from a neighboring village were also targeted though it was nowhere near the core zone.

As per official figures, about 2750 square kilometers of dense forests are covered by tigers reserves including bio-diverse land and adjoining forest which is used as a corridor by other animals.

According to the report by Thompson Reuters Foundation, 10,000 people are estimated to live within the park including the buffer zone by the Authorities. Also, half a million people are estimated to live in 1,200 villages within a 10km radius around the park.

The 10 year tiger conservation plan of Odisha highlights that 800 to 1000 square kilometer area is required by 80 to 100 tigers.

As pointed out by Nayak, this serves as the reason behind the relocation.

However, only 26 Royal Bengal Tigers were found by the official Odisha government in the Similipal reserve last year.

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The End of the rope plaiting : In the core of the park, in the Jamuna Garh Village, only 3 out of approximately 35 families have stayed back and decided to continue to use their land. The others chose to relocate, accepting the compensation.

One of the holdouts, Telanga Hasa said, “neighboring families had been paid one million rupees via bank deposit in September 2015 – of which 30,000 rupees was paid in cash.”

“All are still waiting to be allocated the two acres of farmland they were promised.”
“Now they have no forests, no farm land and no livelihood …how can they live with dignity?” Hasa also said that 25 families in the hillside village in Bakua had also stayed back.

The villagers are unable to access the sacred creeper ‘siali’ from which the rope os plaited. This rope, very strong, is highly demanded by farmers.

Presently, the locals have been forced to purchase plastic potato sacks for rupees three per sack for the purpose of plaiting ropes out of them. These ropes are then sold for a petty gain.

 

-By Nikita Saraf of NewsGram, Twitter: @niki_saraf

 

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USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

The real test is how quickly they will act on those words.

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illegal wildlife trade
Thai Navy officers and forestry officials display seized dead tigers, leopards and pangolins in That Phanom district of Nakhon Phanom province, northeastern Thailand. VOA

The United States and dozens of other countries have pledged to work together to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and treat it as a “serious and organized crime” following a two-day conference in London that ended Friday.

Trade in endangered wildlife, such as elephant tusks, rhino horns and tiger bones, is worth an estimated $17 billion a year and is pushing hundreds of species to the brink of extinction.

Speaking to heads of state from across the world, Britain’s Prince William, a passionate conservationist, said he recognized that law enforcement resources are already stretched in many countries.

illegal wildlife trade
Britain’s Prince William gestures as he makes speech at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London. VOA

“But I am asking you to see the connections, to acknowledge that the steps you take to tackle illegal wildlife crime could make it easier to halt the shipments of guns and drugs passing through your borders,” the prince told delegates.

Worldwide, the illegal wildlife trade is booming.

Illegal ivory trade activity has more than doubled since 2007, while over 1,300 rhino were killed in 2015. Asian tigers have seen a 95 percent decline in population, as their body parts are in demand for Chinese medicines and wine. In the last year, more than 100 wildlife rangers have died trying to tackle poachers.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the conference the U.S. will give $90 million to programs that fight illegal wildlife traffickers.

illegal wildlife trade
Seized wild birds are seen inside a cage at a news conference by police officers following a bust on illegal wildlife trade, in Kunming, Yunnan province, China. VOA

“Their criminal acts harm communities, degrade institutions, destabilize our environment and funnel billions of dollars to those who perpetuate evil in the world. These criminals must be and they can be stopped,” Sessions said.

It is not only big mammals at risk.

For example, a critically endangered water frog from the remote Lake Titicaca in Peru has seen its numbers plummet in recent years, as thousands have been trapped and taken to make a juice that some believe has medicinal properties, despite no scientific evidence.

Delegates at the conference applauded progress made, including China’s decision at the beginning of this year to close its domestic ivory market, hailed as a major step in safeguarding the world elephant population.

Aron White of the Britain-based Environmental Investigation Agency says other animals need similar protection.

“This market was both stimulating demand for ivory and also enabling illegal ivory to be laundered through this legal trade,” White told VOA. “But that same issue still exists for big cats. You know, there’s a trade in leopard bone products [for example], large-scale commercial trade.”

Campaigners say existing United Nations Conventions on transnational organized crime offer firepower for tackling the illegal wildlife trade, but they are not being used effectively.

In the closing declaration, conference attendees pledged to work together to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and recognize it as a serious and organized crime.

Also Read: Salman Khan Sentenced to Five Years In Poaching Case, Others Acquitted

The real test is how quickly they will act on those words. (VOA)