A NGO-driven wildlife conservation initiative focused on habitat conservation and eco-development by addressing livelihood concerns of communities is soon likely to be launched by the Forest Department under the direction and funding from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
To be mainly propelled by six NGOs with the Forest Department playing the sheet anchor, the project titled ‘Integrated Habitat Conservation and Eco-development Tiger Landscape’ will be implemented in two prime tiger corridors, Nagzira-Navegaon-Tadoba and Melghat-Bor-Pench. The NGOs to associate with the project will be Wildlife Trust of India, Wildlife Conservation Trust, Wildlife Research and Conservation Society, The Research and Conservation Trust, Binary Natural History Society and Satpuda Foundation. These NGOs will in turn take help of some local grassroots NGOs in project implementation.
IUCN will contribute Rs 14.59 crore for the 2.7-year project.
The main objectives of the project are to reduce non-fuelwood dependencies of people in the above two corridors through voluntary adoption of alternative livelihood options, to reduce fuelwood extraction and consumption in 67 villages, to reduce grazing pressures by introducing high-yielding cattle varieties through artificial insemination in 50 villages, to reduce human-big cat conflicts, to reduce wildlife crimes through comprehensive capacity building of protection staff, to increase awareness about tiger conservation initiative among rural schoolchildren and teachers and to increase water availability and grazing pastures for ungulates.
To achieve these objectives, the NGOs will undertake various activities such as holding consultative meetings and constituting 106 self-help groups (SHGs) in 80 prioritised villages; undertake vocational training for these SHG members for alternative livelihood such as nature guides, safari drivers, sewing and tailoring; minor forest produce and non-timber forest produce (MFP and NTFP)-based trades including NTFP production through plantations, plumbing, electrical work and small industrial productions; develop fisheries in three villages in Bor-Pench area; conduct training for developing bamboo craft in ten villages; provide all kinds of equipment, kits for various vocations; and provide incentives for 106 micro-enterprises based on alternative livelihood.
Another endeavour would be to conduct training to select SHGs in 67 beneficiary villages for repair, maintenance and manufacture of improved cook stoves and manufacture and install these cook stoves in 8500 households.
To address human-tiger conflict, 100 Primary Response Teams will be constituted followed by intensive workshops and training to address conflict situations and assist the Forest Department in detecting and preventing wildlife crimes. These teams will be provided with basic patrolling and crowd-control equipment. Another important measure would be to construct parapet walls around 500 open wells in these corridors and also in Chandrapur buffer and Brahmapuri divisions. In addition, three fully equipped Rapid Response Teams will also be established in the Nagzira-Navegaon-Tadoba corridor.