Wildlife experts bat for community-based tiger conservation

GUWAHATI: Wildlife experts and social scientists from the Northeast delved into issues of tiger conservation and the role of local communities in conservation through interactive discussion organised by biodiversity conservation NGO, Aaranyak, on the occasion of Global Tiger Day on Wednesday.

Aaranyak organised the panel discussion in its series of “Eco Talk”, titled “Tiger and Communities- Connecting the dots in NE India”.

In his introductory speech, Firoz Ahmed, a senior scientist and head, Tiger Research and Conservation Division, Aaranyak, talked about how tigers being tertiary predators, maintain ecosystems that they live in and reflect the health of an ecosystem.

Throwing light on the benefits of long-term monitoring of tigers, their prey and habitat, use of technology in conservation, Ahmed mentioned how securing tigers and habitats would ensure important ecosystem services to mankind.

“There is a need to relook at the conservation models and think of community-based conservation approaches,” he said.

Jayanta Kumar Sarma, a freelance social scientist and environmentalist, vividly explained the role of communities in tiger conservation. He cited examples how traditional beliefs and cultural ethos of the communities in the Northeast are aiding in conservation, which are also beneficial in terms of ecological services and financial benefits.

He stressed the importance of documenting and scientifically interpreting the conservation ethics and cultural traditions of each community.

Bibhuti P. Lahkar, a senior scientist with Aaranyak stressed on the importance of people’s participation in conservation. He highlighted the role of Aaranyak and other organisations in helping local communities around Manas National Park understand the importance of tiger conservation.

“Active community involvement is setting an example for conservation, and helping the tigers to recover in Manas, which bore the brunt of armed conflict few years ago,” he said.

Smarajit Ojah, assistant professor of Nowgong Girls College spoke on how the Laokhowa Burachapori Wildlife sanctuaries are now important tiger habitats.

“The sanctuaries, which were merely considered as grazing reserves until the last decade, have gained recognition in recent times, as a part of Kaziranga Tiger Reserve (buffer area). With the evidence of tiger breeding in the area, it brings new hope altogether. Active participation from Laokhowa Burachapori Wildlife Conservation Society, which involves local communities, has helped shape community conservation in the area,” he said.



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