A Unique Coexistence of an Indigenous Tribe (Adivasi) with Tigers in the Western Ghats of India
In the Biligiri Hills of Karnataka in India, the Soligas have been successfully living within a wildlife sanctuary (tigers, elephants, etc.) for centuries. The stories and values from this community serve as important lessons for reimagining conservation.
Publication Title: "Expert Corner: A Unique Coexistence of an Indigenous Tribe (Adivasi) with Tigers in the Western Ghats of India."
Posted on the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Network, this new article suggests 'new perspectives to conservation'. The relationship between the people and the land was built through conversations with the Soligas, an Indian Adivasi tribe, and Dr. Madegowda, a senior researcher at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.
- Kamaljit Sangha, IUCN CEESP Co-Chair Local Economies, Communities, and Nature Specialist group
- Dr. M. Balasubramanian, Assistant Professor at the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore
- Dr. C. Madegowda, Senior Researcher and Coordinator at the Ashoka Trust for Reserach in Ecology and the Environment
Excerpt from the original article:
The Soligas’ ability to live with wildlife over the centuries and sustainably manage the Biligiri Hills region by applying a range of traditional practices (such as recognizing bird voices and flight patterns as indicators of rainfall, the presence of tigers or elephants and worshipping plants and animals to preserve biodiversity) suggests the need to learn from their successful human-wildlife coexistence. Passing on tribal knowledge and strategies (e.g., managing weed and fire, protecting the diversity of plants and understanding animal behaviour and calls etc.) is essential not only for guiding future tribal generations but also for offering insights into forest and wildlife conflict management practices by forest managers and other conservation officials. For example, the management of the Biligiri region by the Soligas is proven to deliver several important ecosystem services for the public, such as fresh and clean air and water to the nearby highly populated areas, sequestration of CO2 and abatement of climate change and prevention of wildfires and soil erosion to protect the cropping areas in the downstream areas. The Soligas’ long-standing harmony with wildlife in the Biligiri Hills underscores the potential benefits of incorporating tribal communities’ traditional knowledge into future conservation strategies.