“The lives of hundreds of thousands of tribal people (Adivasis) in Indian tiger reserves are being destroyed in the name of conservation. The Indian government is illegally evicting them from the land where they have always lived and that they have always protected (Modi’s government is attacking Adivasi rights in other ways too).”
‘They are accused of harming wildlife. But, far from killing tigers, many tribes worship them as gods and take care of their environment better than anyone else. Where tribal people’s right to stay in a tiger reserve was recognized, tiger numbers soared.“Survival International
People of Kaziranga
The people of Kaziranga have come together with a message for all those who celebrated World Rhino Day. Pranab, from the Mising tribe, talks about his people’s work in protecting the rhino for millennia and in helping Kaziranga National Park thrive.
“We are sending out an emergency call to you that we are being crippled from every direction. We are being treated as criminals, our land has been taking away by different agencies – in the name of embankment, in the name of industries, in the name of corridors. Why don’t you take into account that WE are the major contributors.”
“The biggest contributors to conservations are the people of Kaziranga: the tribal communities; the indigenous communities; the traditional forest dwelling communities of Kaziranga, who have sacrificed day and night for the survival of elephants, rhinos, tigers, and deer, and all flora and fauna in Kaziranga – they should not be forgotten. WWF, Forest department, all these agencies were born just a few decades back but conservation by the indigenous communities and people is ages old. It is an old story where people have made it an integral part of their culture.”
“Tribal peoples are being illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands in the name of conservation. The big conservation organizations are guilty of supporting this. They never speak out against evictions. WWF even offered commercial tours of Kaziranga on its website. Tourists are welcome in the reserve – but tribal peoples are not.”
Check out Survival International’s article ‘Five things the BBC didn’t tell you about Kaziranga’.
“How could we harm the forest? We’re the ones that save the forest. As long as we are here, the forest will be fine. We are the defenders of the forest. If we leave, who will protect the forest?”Baiga, Achanakmar Tiger Reserve
“We were stronger in the forest. We could go wherever we wanted, wander wander wherever we wanted in all directions”.Baiga, Achanakmar Tiger Reserve
Featured image: Baiga women by Simon Williams, 2003.