India: Local Tribespeople Enlisted to Help Protect Tigers

The local Tharu community will help forest officials protect tigers and other wildlife in Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary.

The indigenous Tharu tribe living next to Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh will play a pivotal role in protecting tigers, thanks to a joint initiative between forest officials and local conservationists.

Located near India’s border with Nepal, Suhelwa is under constant threat from wildlife traffickers who target the big cats and smuggle their parts into neighboring China. However, members of the Tharu community posted at key checkpoints will provide intelligence for combating wildlife crime in the region.

Rajiv Chauhan from Society for Conservation of Nature, told the Times of India that his organization plans to coordinate several village events with the team at Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary, which will emphasize “why the forests and tigers or other wild animals need to be protected”.

These include plantation programmes, conservation rallies and nature games for children of the community who would also be made aware of the importance of nature and wildlife conservation. Film shows on wildlife and nature conservation will be conducted apart from other activities like painting competitions and quiz[zes].

Enforcement in the area also received a boost from TRAFFIC. In July 2012, the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and TRAFFIC India conducted a two-day workshop “Strengthening Wildlife Law Enforcement and Conservation Along Borders”, attended by forest officials from Balrampur, Saravasti, Maharajgunj and Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary.

There are six more workshops planned under the SSB collaboration with TRAFFIC, which will focus on India’s borders with Nepal and Bhutan.

Image by Wikigringo via Wikimedia Commons



Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.