Learning from tribal communities: Ecology and health issues

“There is a need to explore the tribal consciousness in the backdrop of climate change, development, and deforestation.” – Deepanwita Gita Niyogi in “India’s Adivasi Identity in Crisis” Pulitzer Center May 27, 2021 | Learn more about climate change and illegal mining | United Nations on climate change | Find free publications on India’s hunter-gatherers in the Unesco Digital Library >>

For a natural balance

A National Consultation on Wildlife Conservation and People’s Livelihood Rights stresses the need to work towards conservation projects that are equally sensitive to the needs of wildlife and local communities. […]

The venue of the workshop thus offered a good opportunity for the participants to look at the collaborative work of the VGKK, ATREE and the Karnataka Forest Department on the use of non-timber forest produce (NTFP) to ensure the livelihood security of the Soligas, while attempting to keep the conservation objectives of the BRT sanctuary in mind. It also provided abundant proof that adivasis and forests are inextricably linked. Where the sanctuary and the tribal people had protected the forests, it had helped protect their nutritional and health basis. Dr. Sudarshan gave various instances of diseases/conditions such as appendicitis, colonic cancer, vitamin deficiency, ischaemic heart disease, hypertension, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ( AIDS), which were once unknown among the Soligas. Also caesarian deliveries and eyesight disorders were absent among them.

This real-life example of an alternative approach provided an ideal backdrop to discussions that dwelt on several critical national issues. At the outset, the context for the dialogue was set on the basis of the experience of conservation initiatives tak en in the past few decades in India.

IN an attempt to conserve the depleting forests and wildlife in India, the Wild Life Protection Act (WLPA) was enacted in 1972. It made the creation of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries (protected areas) the main means for wildlife conservation. Th ere were significant initial successes. […]

Calculations based on surveys conducted in the mid-1980s by the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), Delhi suggest that over three million people live in areas that are designated as national parks and sanctuaries and millions are dependent on the resources from them. Conservation efforts did not take into consideration these people, their rights or even needs. The conflicts were waiting to happen. Yellappa Reddy, retired forest officer and former Secretary, Environment and Forests, Karnataka, pointed out that the traditional harmony between tribal people and forest officers at the Nagarahole National Park was spoilt by a recent move to shift the tribal people out of the part. “If the government does not change its attitude, many more Veerappans will be created,” he said.

But the fault lies not only with the government. The increasing politicisation and commercialisation of the rural areas, the breakdown of traditions, and demands made by the growing human and livestock populations have all contributed to the present situation. The net result: wildlife, wildlife habitats, and the resource base of rural and tribal communities continue to be destroyed. […]

The Consultation suggested that a code of conduct that would make tourism an environmentally and culturally sensitive activity be formulated and enforced strictly. This would often happen only if local communities and wildlife officials/NGOs are empowered to manage and earn revenue from tourism. The major part of the revenue generated should go back to the management of the wildlife habitat. The Periyar Tiger Reserve (Kerala), the Morjim beach (Goa) and the Khanchendzonga National Park (Sikkim) – where locals benefited and ecological principles were applied – were cited as alternative models in this regard. […]

Source: “For a natural balance” by Pankaj Sekhsaria and Ashish Kothari,
Frontline Magazine, Volume 17 – Issue 11, May 27 – Jun. 09, 2000
Address : http://www.hindu.com/fline/fl1711/17111210.htm
Date Visited: Sun Sep 04 2011 13:11:28 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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India has committed US $50 million towards strengthening the institutional mechanism for biodiversity conservation in the country during its presidency of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). Called the Hyderabad Pledge, the amount was announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while inaugurating a three-day, high-level ministerial segment of CBD on October 16. [2014]

[…] The funds will be used to enhance technical and human capabilities at the national and state-level mechanisms to attain the CBD objectives

Source: M Suchitra, Down to Earth, 4 July 2015: Hyderabad biodiversity pledgeUS $50 million to protect biodiversity in India
URL: https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/us-50-million-to-protect-biodiversity-in-india-39358
Date visited: 17 April 2019

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Search tips: in the search field seen below, combine the name of any particular state, language or region with that of any tribal (Adivasi) community; add keywords of special interest (health, nutrition endangered language, illegal mining, sacred grove); learn about the rights of Scheduled Tribes such as the Forest Rights Act (FRA); and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, women’s rights, and children’s right to education; specify any other issue or news item you want to learn more about (biodiversity, bonded labour and human trafficking, climate change, ecology, economic development, ethnobotany, ethnomedicine, global warming, Himalayan tribe, hunter-gatherers in a particular region or state, prevention of rural poverty, water access).

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