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Monday, September 10, 2012

Tribals to help resolve man-animal conflict

Published: Monday, Sep 10, 2012, 9:42 IST By Akshay Deshmane | Place: Mumbai With their centuries-long history of co-existence with leopards, tribals make ideal candidates to help come up with solutions for the human-animal conflict. Keeping this in mind, researchers working on the ‘Mumbaikars for SGNP’ project are enlisting the help of tribal residents to come up with awareness programmes for people living in the vicinity of the big cats. Rajesh Sanap, a member of the research team, hit upon the idea when Ankush Bhoir, a Keltipada resident from the Malhar-koli community, told him about the tribals’ historic practice of worship and continued co-existence with leopards deep inside the forests. “I thought of asking the tribals to talk to the residents living in societies around the habitat of the leopard through a presentation. The reason is that the society residents have a very different, — largely negative — approach about living with leopards, very much unlike the tribals who obviously been staying with the big cats for much longer, and thus, know them better,” said Sanap. He pointed out that the society residents always ask for the leopards to be trapped whenever the latter are seen in the vicinity of their buildings. “The Royal Palms residents, for instance, always complain that if they knew the problem would be so grave, they would never have bought houses there,” said Sanap. Sunetro Ghosal, an anthropologist, who is also a part of the team working on the project, believes the superior knowledge of the tribals concerning co-existence with wildlife and nature is an asset. Vidya Athreya, a veteran researcher of the human-leopard conflict, believes the existence of practices such as tiger worship are important from the conservation point of view.

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