Kerala’s Tigers, And Protectors

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Tribal conservationist Babu: School dropout launches a website with info on tiger conservation in Parambikulam reserve.

The Hindu carries a story, close to our hearts and activities, about a heroic member of a local indigenous community devoted to conservation for the tiger and all it depends on:

He may be the answer to the debate on tiger versus tribal, where tiger conservation and livelihood of forest-dwelling tribespeople fail to find a common ground. A school dropout from the Sunkam tribal colony inside the Parambikulam tiger reserve, he has designed a website to bring to the outside world the biodiversity of the reserve and highlight its tiger conservation efforts.

Babu, the 39-year-old Malashar tribal man, who works with an eco-tourism initiative of the tiger reserve, is uploading hundreds of photos he had clicked of the flora and fauna of the reserve on the website, http://www.savetigerland.com. It could soon be a powerful repository of tiger conservation materials and invaluable photographs of Parambikulam, which shares its borders with the Anamalai tiger reserve in Coimbatore.

Computer training

“I have been engaged in conservation efforts from childhood. A few years ago, the Forest Department computerised the Parambikulam Tourism Information Centre and Divisional Forest Office. The officials there trained me in computers and photography,” said Mr. Babu, on the marriage of his interests.

Three years ago, he bought a computer with a bank loan, and six months ago, a camera. The then deputy director of the tiger reserve K. Vijayanandan inspired him to start a website on Parambikulam and its conservation efforts. Software expert M. Deepesh helped him design the website.

When the website was launched in October this year as part of Wildlife Protection Week, it carried only basic details of the park. However, the uploading the data is fast progressing. Apart from English, it has pages in Malayalam and Tamil.

“The Parambikulam Tiger Reserve has many firsts to its credit, made possible through the participation of tribal people. Tribal people have become part of the Social Tiger Protection Force and are combating forest and wildlife-related offences,” Mr. Babu said.

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