A recent comment by Ganesh apropos the article Forest Rights Act, 2007 has much food for thought that i deemed it fit to be addressed in a separate post than continue the conversation in the comment spacedom.
“it is not the tribals who are to be feared but those who come behind them..the business men, traders, poachers etc who will use these tribals as their front for their own nefarious activities. the job of the conservationists, the protectos just got tougher.”
Yes, tribals have always been used by the poaching mafia, the morally bankrupt trading community and the higher ups to achieve their own selfish demeaning objectives. But i feel like its time for some rugged measures vis a vis tribal resettlement as also wildlife conservation. Elephants need to forage large tracts for food and have their own corridors for migration. Tigers need large beats. When habitats decrease, the scope of human animal conflict is never greater than now. There is no saner way than tribal resettlement today. Tough choice yes, but we got to live with that. Yet in the same breadth, we have to ensure that tribals are resettled in a humane way that overly compensates what they lost in terms of their land and traditions.
The smart way forward is to use the tribal’s varied jungle expertise to set up herbal medicine centers, use their knowledge of the terrain by making them part of anti poaching squads, treasure their tracking and animal behaviour knowhow by employing them as trekking guides and staff. This will definitely break the tribal-poacher nexus. The Government can be more proactive and ensure better education, alternative employment, health care and sanitation facilities for the resettled tribals.
To be honest, we don’t have much alternatives if India’s flora and fauna has to be protected. A concerted effort that involves all stakeholders, the tribals, forest authorities, protectos would be the way to go.. Obstacles do persist. There are many factors that impede forest and wildlife conservation efforts. A few that cross my mind on the fly are
- Pitiable working conditions for forest guards. ( I know of a few uninhabitable checkposts in the Western Ghats which serve as punishment postings for those who fall out with their superiors.)
- Lack of proper arms to protect from poachers ( poachers have better ammo).
- The department is understaffed to stay the least ( In Muhurthi for instance one guard and a couple of watchers are supposed to cover almost 40-50 kms. Impossible).
- IFS top officals like the Sanctuary Warden dont get to spend enough time on postings. People from the north get posted in the south and vice versa. By the time they get a grip on the diverse realities, communication pitfalls, they get transferred. Intercine feuds, serving political masters and agendas make the issue even more complex.
Yet all hope is not lost. I have a lot of faith in the resilience of the Indian fauna. Yet they need all support in their fight for survival. We need to raise our voices more. The tiger’s roar is still heard in a few places. We need to add to that..