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    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

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Posts Tagged ‘indigenous people’

The War on India’s Tiger Reserves

Posted by Richard Conniff on May 15, 2015

(Photo: Aditya Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo: Aditya Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

I’ve been reporting a story lately in India, and one day’s drive between two important tiger reserves reminded me that wildlife survives here only in the face of endless challenges, and with almost all the money and power working in opposition.

The day started in Bhadra Tiger Preserve in the Western Ghats mountain range, and our destination was Kudremukh National Park, 75 miles to the west, with just a thread of wildlife corridor—less than a mile in width—connecting the two.

Bhadra is a beautiful forest with a dirt road winding among tall, straight teak trees. The tigers were in hiding, but there were chital deer in herds, and solo muntjac deer peering out at us nervously. A giant squirrel with big ears and a red tail half again as long as its body stared down. Yellow-toed green pigeons with gorgeous crimson wings busied themselves at a patch of mud.

People were the main challenge here, as everywhere in India. More than 700 families used to live in this forest, in 13 villages. The politically correct point of view, especially among human rights activists, is that indigenous people should stay in the forest, as an integral part of the natural world. There is plenty to be said for this point of view when loggers, palm oil producers, and oil companies hack down forests around tribal people who have always lived there.

But the reality in India

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