Coexistence: The Balance between Conservation and Development

The success of our project in the areas outlying Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar, Rajasthan is founded on the efforts of Mr. Aman Singh – environmental activist and founder of NGO (and Grow-Trees.com Planting Partner) KRAPAVIS that works toward revitalizing Orans in Rajasthan.

We had the opportunity to interact with Mr. Aman Singh last week, and learn more about the work he does, the challenges KRAPAVIS faces and his views on governmental attitude towards conservation.

Mr. Singh shared his thoughts on the issue of coexistence between human beings and wildlife in protected areas and why coexistence between these two groups is the way forward in long-term wildlife conservation and development.

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Need for Coexistence

Mr. Singh believes the establishment of protected areas in developing countries has proven to be a drawback for the local communities which have ultimately constrained the efforts of wildlife conservation.

Livelihoods of local communities rely on forests produce. Members of the local communities believe that their values and interests are pushed aside and an exclusive preference is being given to wildlife protection. This perception has resulted in a drift in attitudes of the local communities towards wildlife conservation, which has fuelled conflicts between local communities and wildlife authorities.

Another concern of local communities is the restriction on the use of forest produce in protected areas on which the daily sustenance and income of these communities have depended for years. When these communities are not vested in the forest for their needs, in the long term, their discord with forest authorities will jeopardize conservation goals.

Community Participation: Members of communities living around forested areas in Alwar, Rajasthan.

Merits of Community-Based Conservation (CBC)

Experiences have shown that where wildlife coexist with dense human settlements, it has brought about several economic benefits which have supported wildlife conservation. Community-based conservation (CBC) can be used to achieve conservation and development simultaneously wherein interests of all the stakeholders can be served.

Participatory approaches of humans within a biological ecosystem can result in economic development through ventures like eco-tourism and regulated wildlife harvesting.

With the help and support of the government, forest departments and wildlife-conservation agencies, we can contribute to devising ways and means to safeguard and protect the wildlife habitat and improve the economy at the local level. This would change the attitude and perception of the people towards wildlife conservation. Community-based conservation can be controversial if the community development objectives do not coincide with the wildlife conservation goals.

Empirical research on the capacity for wildlife to coexist with local communities is essential, given the fact that human activities such as livestock grazing, poaching, natural resource extraction are growing considerably. Human-wildlife conflict adversely affects the security of communities that closely interact with wildlife. It is imperative to unravel the complexities and dynamics of local people’s respect, perception, and motivation towards wildlife conservation so that animals and humans can coexist with one-another.

 

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