Nagzira, Brahmapuri women join the dots to save tigers

NAGPUR: At a time when man-animal conflict has flared up in the region, several women in the region are coming forward to join the dots for tiger conservation by becoming part of the Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP), which aims to , their habitats and to support human populations.

The ITHCP is supported by German government and German Development Bank (KfW) and was launched in late 2014. ITHCP has a current portfolio of 11 projects located within tiger conservation landscape which are areas universally considered as the most crucial for long-term tiger conservation.

In India, Maharashtra forest department is the partner in Vidarbha tiger landscape along with a consortium of various NGOs implementing various initiatives since 2017.

In Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve (NNTR) and the project has been implementing activities like improved cook stoves, which have been installed in 4,100 households. ?It has helped in reducing consumption and collection of firewood by almost 30%,? says Anil Kumar, project head, Central India Tiger Habitat Securement Project, WTI. The NGO is one of the partners of the project.

WTI has been doing capacity-building and guiding community-based bodies like committees (JFMCs), eco-development committees (EDCs) and biodiversity management committees (BMCs), and sustainable collection and value addition of non-timber forest produce (NTFPs).

?Our efforts have resulted in manufacturing of products like squashes of mahua, ambadi, bel and jamun, pickles of mahua, mango, lemon. The latest is making bakery products of mahua, detergents, soaps and toiletries, cloth and paper bags,? says WTI?s field officer Manisha Ashraf.

She informed 120 villagers were selected for trainings post consultative meetings with the women self-help group (SHGs) and were sent for training centres at Centre of Science for Villages (CSV), Wardha, Vigyan Sabha, Chhindwara, and Maharashtra Centre for Enterprise Development (MCED), Nagpur.

?Post trainings we have been provided equipment and materials required for manufacturing, storage, labelling, packaging, statutory licenses like FSSAI, PAN card, bank accounts etc and developing marketing linkages. In a short span of six month, trainees have sold products worth Rs1.40 lakh in local markets, Van Dhan shops in Nagpur and Mumbai, and at Gaj Mahotsav in Delhi,? said Hemlata Walde of Community Resource Management Centre, Deori.

Apart from the value-added products, direct benefit transfer was given to 89 villagers, including 78 women and 11 men of Rs11.45 by manufacturing and installation of 4,103 improved cook stoves under the programme.

?Two shops have been established each in Goregaon in Gondia and Brahmapuri in Chandrapur for marketing the products made by the trainees and most importantly two of the Bollywood celebrities ? Diya Mirza and Raveena Tandon have been encouraging and promoting their work,? says Indu Kumari, senior adviser.

?To further strengthen their work and motivate other members of the SHGs, an orientation and motivational workshop of the beneficiaries was held in Pitambar Tola in Gondia district recently. The purpose of meeting was to introduce beneficiaries and SHGs to forest and other line departments who are involved in similar activities,? says Navegaon ACF Dr Priya Mhaske.

?The programme contributes to the international goal set up during the 2010 St Petersburg Tiger Summit to double wild tiger populations by 2022 up to 6,000 tigers, starting from a baseline global population of 3,200 tigers,? informed WTI senior manager Prafulla Bhamburkar.

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