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VKAP – Bandhavgarh TR, November 2012

To read the detailed report for this programme, click here.

“Aisa dikhta hai kya tiger?” asked Om Prakash Yadav, pointing to the handsome face of a tiger that stared at us from our banner of Last Wilderness Foundation.

Om Prakash Yadav has spent all his life in a village on the periphery of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve (BTR) and the truth is that he has never seen a tiger nor an image of this beast.

It is perhaps a common assumption that people living in forests will tend to be mesmerised by the beauty and power that has come to be associated with the tiger. The truth however is that many people have not even seen the tiger. While most of us reading this would associate the tiger as India’s national pride, the villager who lives in proximity with the tiger and has lost his cattle to it cares little for its status as ‘India’s national animal’. Their argument is simple-when their cattle aren’t allowed to feed within the forest, why should the tiger be allowed inside their villages, and therefore, when it does, why should it be spared?

Hence, we, at LWF, believe that to save the forests and the tigers, we must also consider the interests of the people living within. They are as much the custodians of the forests as the rest of us and must be given an opportunity to appreciate and understand the forest better, In keeping with this belief; we carried out the third leg of the awareness session for villagers (previously held between 23-27 April and 6-30 June). Bhavna Menon and Vidya Venkatesh from Last Wilderness Foundation carried out this programme.

*At the end of the session, each village was also given a set of four stories (to combat the myths about various wild animals like owls, tigers, geckos and snakes) to put up at their respective schools. To acquire a copy of these stories, you can write to us at – contactus@thelastwilderness.org

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