Resettlement works for livelihoods and tigers in India

Resettlement works for livelihoods and tigers in India

IMPACT

WCS’s conservation efforts in the Bhadra Tiger Reserve, a park critical for tigers and other wildlife in southwestern India, has a) increased tiger numbers threefold; b) expanded habitat for tigers by 100 km2; and c) improved livelihoods for nearly 4,000 people

STORY

The forests of Bhadra Tiger Reserve lie in the heart of the largest Asian elephant and tiger population in the world, but have been highly fragmented by human settlements. Residents of villages within Bhadra once had minimum access to electricity, schools, or hospitals. At the same time, through cattle grazing, poaching, and clearing of land for agriculture, these villagers negatively impacted wildlife and natural habitats. Through a commitment from WCS and partners, and with the strong support of the Government of India, resettlement from Bhadra began in 2001. Between 2001 and 2002, nearly 4,000 people (419 families) from 13 villages were resettled from Bhadra. After resettlement, all families own irrigated, fertile lands for agriculture, and their village lands within the park were consolidated into the Reserve to recover its protected forests. Voluntary resettlement served the dual purpose of improving human lives and livelihoods, and enhancing the viability of wildlife populations. To assess the conservation impact, WCS has been monitoring tiger and prey populations annually since 1997, using cutting-edge scientific techniques. Interview surveys of families from the 13 villages were also conducted to assess impacts on livelihoods.

EVIDENCE

Saving Species IconSPECIES: The tiger population has increased threefold from 9 individual tigers, prior to the resettlements, to current estimates of 28 within Bhadra and the larger landscape. Tiger prey densities have nearly doubled from 11 tigers per km2 in 2000, to 21 per km2 in 2015. We expect tiger and prey densities to further increase and estimate that Bhadra can hold a population of approximately 50 breeding tigers

Strengthening Management IconMANAGEMENT EFFECTIVENESS: Incidents of illegal poaching, fishing through dynamite use, starting fires, using the park for cattle grazing, timber smuggling and extracting fuelwood in the park have been reduced by more than 90%. For instance, the number of forest offences registered annually has decreased from between 170 and 254 cases prior to resettlement, to only 5 to 19 cases in recent years.

Securing Livelihoods IconLIVELIHOODS: Following resettlement, the number of families with access to basic amenities, such as electricity, education, healthcare, roads and transportation, and markets, increased from less than 10% to 100%. The proportion of families facing injury, threat to life, or loss of crops or livestock due to wildlife decreased from 97% to 0%.

FURTHER INFORMATION


 

GRAPH: Tiger population size has increased since villages were resettled from Bhadra Tiger Reserve in 2002. Human livelihoods have also improved; the proportion of households with access to basic amenities (electricity, education and medical facilities) has increased from 4% to 100% with their resettlement.
 

      

PHOTO: A rice paddy field adjacent to village land in Bhadra Tiger Reserve before resettlement, now consolidated into important habitat for wild gaur and chital, key prey for wild tigers.
   MAP: WCS support of the voluntary resettlement of villagers out of the Bhadra Tiger Reserve in India has improved livelihoods for 4,000 people, recovered key habitat back into the protected area, and increased tiger populations threefold.
LEFT: A rice paddy field adjacent to village land in Bhadra Tiger Reserve before resettlement, now consolidated into important habitat for wild gaur and chital, key prey for wild tigers.
   ABOVE:

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