Communist Party of India say people's livelihood should not be undermined by tiger conservation

NEWS AND COMMENT-Sathyamangalam, Tamil Naidu, India: Sathyamangalam is a town and municipality in Erode district in the Indian state of Tamil Naidu. It is near the Western Ghats. There are rolling landscapes covered with dense forests. They have some beautiful tiger reserves. The Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve is located there with 80 tigers. The reserve is contiguous with other reserves. Clearly, tiger conservation is important in the area and a major part of the lives of the citizens. Tamil Naidu has five tiger reserves and 15 wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.

Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve
Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve. Picture in public domain.

However, the Communist Party of India (CPI) spokesperson in a meeting to discuss measures to protect the livelihood of tribal people and other forest dwellers stated that tiger conservation should not undermine the livelihoods of the hill people.

This was a reference to an order passed by the Madras High Court that banned vehicle movement during night hours on Dhimbam Ghat Road. The order also relocated people of Thengumarahada and banned cattle grazing in forest areas.

The point is that this is an example of the constant friction between the rights of the citizens of India and tiger conservation. It is a balancing act. And as the human population of India grows it increasingly difficult to find the right balance.

The population growth rate in India is just short of 1% and India is projected to surpass China to become the world's most populous country by 2024 with 1.5 billion people by 2030. The population is set to reach 1.7 billion in 2050.

You can see the problem. The tiger population is not growing or if it is it is in very small numbers which you can count on the fingers of your hand. This is in stark contrast to the human population growth. Bengal tiger conservation will become more difficult no matter how excellent it might become.

The Communist Party spokesman said that the court had failed to take into account the rights of tribal people and other forest dwellers as ensured by the Forest Rights Act 2006 and they say that false statistics were presented at court. The Forest Department and government lawyer refused to rectify these errors. The CPI is going to run campaigns between May 4-7 to push for the traditional rights of forest dwellers.


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