Nagarahole National Park (formally known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park) has one of the highest recorded tiger densities in India: 50-60 tigers, and approximately 100 more in adjacent reserves. Nagarahole is currently also home to approximately 1,700 forest-dwelling families living in 55 sporadic settlements (approximately 900 in the interior of the reserve, and another 650 on land that is technically inside the reserve, but along the boundary line, and thus adjacent to legal agricultural lands outside the reserve).
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) seeks to prevent and significantly mitigate adverse human impacts on tiger populations by supporting the acquisition of critical land parcels and enclaves currently in private hands and merging them legally with surrounding tiger reserves. To this end, during the project reporting period of July 1, 2007 through March 31, 2008, 60 families living within the interiors of Nagarahole National Park resettled outside the reserve under a government-implemented plan. To date, 340 families have voluntarily resettled outside the reserve. Post-resettlement support for agriculture, education, health, animal husbandry, and other necessities was provided. Healthcare was provided to 1,783 individuals, and 311 students received educational support. From the resettled families, 24 youth underwent training in masonry and incense stick making to enhance their employment opportunities. Also during the project period, the government took the initiative to set up a high school and a day-care center in response to the project’s interventions. Resettled families were assisted in obtaining government benefits, including old-age pensions, livestock vaccinations, and compensation for crop damage by wildlife. The project team held 60 meetings with forest/wildlife department officials and local elected representatives to build support for this innovative voluntary resettlement project. In addition, a network of local informants was developed who have reported 58 illegal activities in the reserve, which were reported to concerned authorities for suitable action. Four wildlife conservation education awareness camps were conducted for 100 students and 16 teachers. Finally, project leaders supported a habitat consolidation project carried out by WCS.
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