Just over a month ago, the village of Ramdegi was completely relocated to reduce conflict between humans and animals. In that short timespan, biodiversity has already begun to flourish.
The new residents wasted no time moving in and making themselves at home and now the village of Ramdegi in central India's Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve has a new population of bison, deers, antelopes and boars. India's national animal the tiger has also been seen roaming the 175 hectares of the now-abandoned village.
Moving 200 residents is not an easy task. It involves uprooting families who have may have lived in an area for decades or even longer and relocating them to an unfamiliar location. However, the Indian government has tried to make it as lucrative as possible to the villagers, many of whom rely on farming to make a living. Compensation for the villagers includes land, cash and livestock for their troubles. The nearest possible cultivable location away from any animal reserves is also selected to make the move as quick as possible.
The former citizens of Ramdegi are not the first community to be uprooted in India. In an effort to reduce contact between humans and wildlife, the government is encouraging people living on the fringes of wildlife reserves to relocate for the sake of the country's biodiversity and human welfare. So far, 100 communities have been uprooted and moved elsewhere. While initially stressful, the move is ultimately a positive approach to removing conflict between humans and animals.
This scheme is extremely beneficial to India's biodiversity particularly tigers and elephants which are both severely threatened. Attacks on livestock and on people have caused a lot of resentment against tigers and in some cases, tigers and other animals have been attacked and even killed. By removing the human population from these areas, future conflict could be avoided and the animals can hopefully thrive.
Also, the human presence in areas teeming with wildlife, particularly farmers who have cleared the land and converted it to arable farm land has led to a competition for resources such as water and shelter, which has caused animals to stray into small settlements in search of food and water. This is a nuisance for the villagers and the cause of much strife. With the villagers, gone the animals can now graze the land.
It is now recognised that India's unique biodiversity is not only valuable to protect for environmental purposes but also for the ecotourism industry. Wildlife needs space to thrive in, with this scheme this could become possible and it is undoubtedly a step in the right the direction for India's precious and varied wildlife.
Author: Stephen Walsh/ RESET editorial