There was an interesting article in Times of India recently on tiger conservation and the question of corridors (see the article here). The article discusses the fact that, given tiger reserves exist as islands of conservation in broader landscapes, and given they exist to conserve the tiger, at some point tigers will need to move out of the reserve in search of territory.
This will indeed be a challenge. Whilst the importance of tiger reserves is understood, even if their management and the impacts they have on local people’s rights are challenged, the whole question of wildlife corridors adds layers of complexity. Inherent in this complexity is ultimately the very question of protected areas and their buffer zones. Through this, the broader questions are related to having an ecosystem/landscape understanding rather than just a focus on protected tiger reserves.
When we start talking about corridors, we are talking about the intersection point of local people and conservation and rights. Corridors extend the concept of ‘management’ to locations beyond (sometimes well beyond) the reserve and its buffer zones. When ‘management’ moves to the corridors, the rights of local people, their access rights, their livelihoods etc become part of the equation, and the balance between conservation needs and local people’s rights come into sharp focus.
It also puts the conservation of the tiger into broader development narratives. All very well having a corridor (and all its complexities) but if the corridor ends at a 6 lane highway or a busy railway track (or both) you’ve got a set of issues that are well beyond local people and are part of national development agendas and approaches.
These will not be easy to work through. The story picks up on some of these issues but it remains to be seen how this will resolve itself.
And if you get a chance, see the film ‘The Forgotten Tigers’ by film maker Krishnendu Bose of Earthcare (click here for Earthcare’s website). It’s focus is particularly relevant to this – the tigers who live outside the reserves for whatever reason. A terrific film on the subject.