Changing Attitudes to Save the Tiger
As human-animal conflict intensifies across the Indian state of Assam the news of the birth of four tiger cubs has created great excitement in the tribal hamlet of Natundanga Gaon.
“It’s a noticeably different kind of excitement. Previously, the traditional hunting community would have been keen to see the back of the tigers but now villagers are actively protecting the tiger family,” says Mangal Singh Teron, a resident who leads a youth group working for the conservation and protection of the park. The villagers enthusiasm for the tigers marks a huge shift in attitude from their traditional hunting roots.
This change follows the launch in 2008 of the annual awareness programmes funded by TigerTime and conducted by Aaranyak and the Assam Forest Department which includes the Nature Orientation Initiative for children.
“We focus on encouraging an interest in conservation among young people and they share the message with friends and family. The shift in attitudes is proof that it’s really working,” says Md Arif Hussain, Project Officer with Aaranyak.
Despite having very little these villagers are now actively contributing to anti-poaching activities and the conservation of wildlife.
“The villagers are ensuring the safety of the tiger cubs in the area. Such a gesture is rare especially as a number of villages around the park continue to protest about the declaration of Kaziranga as a Tiger Reserve,” says Dr. M Firoz Ahmed, Conservation Biologist at Aaranyak.
Poaching is a real issue in the area and it is wonderful to see real results coming from these TigerTime supported outreach and education programmes.
“Seeing the impact of our conservation outreach activities is hugely encouraging,” adds TigerTime’s campaign manager, Vicky Flynn. “Our long term-plan is to continue this support and to engage with villagers, share knowledge and create model livelihood programmes to encourage people and animals to live in harmony. This latest update proves that it is really beginning to reap rewards.”
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