Remote rural communities, forest residents and fringe forest dwellers within and adjacent to national parks, reserve forests, sanctuaries, biodiversity hotspots are known to be directly and indirectly dependent on local forests for their sustenance and livelihood in the poor developing and under developed nations of Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eurasia. The rise of human populations in these ecologically sensitive pockets, human migration and settlements as well as illegal encroachments inside the forests in many instances have crossed or in the verge of crossing the ecological and environmental carrying capacity severely deteriorating and jeopardizing habitat quality for local wildlife and biodiversity. There has been covert political support behind these actions for narrow vote bank politics leading to destruction of forests which in term is responsible for mass scale habitat fragmentation and habitat destruction pushing local flora and fauna towards slow extinction in the not so distant future.
Overexploitation of forests and illegal collection of major and minor forest products, unrestricted and illegal grazing, anthropogenic forest fires, poaching and wildlife trafficking within protected areas has been disturbing the peace and tranquility of nature and wildlife reserves necessary for wildlife to forage, nest and breed successfully. Hence, unless the socio-economic conditions of the people living around parks is improved with long term employment, education, health benefits; true fruits of the conservation could never be fully achieved. The development of the ecosystem not only includes the forest, wildlife and biodiversity; but also the humans who has been living and sharing the ecosystem services for many generations. Unless the human factor is comprehensively considered in terms of socio-economic and rural developments we could expect very little ‘true’ success in terms of tiger conservation from a long term perspective. We have to accept the real cause of the problem first to make any meaningful change to the system and to see ‘real’ success for successful conservation of tigers.
Saikat Kumar Basu,