Monday, January 3, 2011

Indian Forest Tribe Members Receive Quota as Forest Guards

Corbett National Park Welcome Sign

Recently, members of the Van Gurjar tribe have been given thirty percent reservation as forest guards in Uttarakhand's Corbett National Park. The Van Gurjar are a Muslim counterpart of an indigenous tribe native to the forests of northern India. It has been estimated that over 25,000 have been living in the region for over a century. They are also a nomadic tribe, migrating to the higher elevations of the Himalayas in search for forest patches during the summer months. Many are vegetarians, feasting on nothing but fruits and honey gathered from the forests of Corbett and Rajaji National Parks. However, despite this clean lifestyle, many had been forced to settle on government land in Hardwar during the mid-1990s upon suspicion of collaborating with tiger poachers. Fortunately, the approving by the central government of setting up a Corbett tiger force last year opened up a window of opportunity for this tribe. The reason was because members of the tribe were familiar with the national park's land, which made it useful in monitoring poaching activities. According to forest officials, this project will first be carried out in Corbett National Park but will also extend to other forest areas including Rajaji National Park.

I'm very happy and proud to see what the government of Uttarakhand is doing, in order to help save the tiger population in the region. To do this, many members of the Van Gurjar tribe that used to live in the forests of Corbett and Rajaji National Parks are being employed in this battle to save the tiger as they have the knowledge of their forest homeland. However, there is also a Hindu counterpart of this particular tribe in Rajasthan who are mostly farmers. They have been agitating for nearly fourteen days over the job quota demand. I personally feel that it would be helpful for the members of this tribe to be employed as forest guards in Ranthambore and Sariska National Parks as well. That way, it will make it easier for the authorities to battle poachers and prevent them from interrupting any conservation efforts to revive the tiger population in these wildlife sanctuaries.

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