Tribals in Pench Tiger Reserve Protest against UK charity's tourism boycott. See release here

19 January 2018

"Its totally unethical to make an appeal to foreign tourist by using the name of Indian tribal communities." 

Satpuda Foundation - PRESS RELEASE

Pench-NNTR tribal Guides registered protests against Survival International (SI) UK

Nagpur (18Jan 2018): Survival International (SI), london based organisation has made an appeal to global tourists, not to visit Indian Tiger Reserves. Responding to this appeal, today the Guides in Pench Tiger Reserve and NNTR have conducted a meeting and registered their protest against Survival International UK and its Director, Stephen Corry.  

            Stephen Corry Director, Survival International  wrote an open email from his email id campaigns@survivalinternational.org  to global community  that "India's government is illegally evicting tribal people from their forest homes. They are being forced out because the forests that they have cared for since time immemorial have been turned into tiger reserves." He further write that " Hundreds of thousands of tourists in jeeps are permitted to enter the reserves. This disturbs the tigers, gets them used to human presence (which helps poachers), and creates litter and pollution". He further make an appeal "I pledge to boycott Indian tiger reserves .They evicted us on the pretext that we made noise and that we disturbed the forest. But now there are lots of jeeps and tourism vehicles – isn’t that a disturbance for the animals? India’s tribal people are the best guardians of their forest homes. Many of them worship tigers as gods. And in one tiger reserve where their right to stay was recognized, tiger numbers soared."  

          Satpuda Foundation, a leading NGO which works for tribal development as well as tiger conservation in central India has shared this shocking email with the tribals from relocated villages and tribal guides who got jobs due to Tiger Reserves. 

             "We have not given consultancy to Survival International(SI) to speak on our behalf", said Bandu Uike President of Eco-development Committee of Ghatpendhari village in Pench Tiger Reserve. Its totally un- ethical to make an appeal to foreign tourist by using the name of Indian tribal communities, he stated further. Tomorrow our tribals will gather at Amaltas Complx at 7 am to register the protest against SI UK and request Indian Government to take strict action against SI and their campaign, he stated further. 

Pench guides expressed that there is no forced eviction of tribals in Pench Tiger Reserve. Also some villagers themselves want to get relocation package. So who is this survival International to decide whether we should go out or not? We are getting better package outside the core area and within our district  where there is no risk to our lives and crops. 

The tribal youths have stated that "we have got employment from wildlife tourism. This livelihood has come after a long efforts of conservation. So now we are ripping the benefits of wildlife tourism. What is the problem of Survival International UK". 

Kishor Rithe, President of Satpuda Foundation said that this campaign is against India and its economic development. Our tribals are protecting the forests and ripping its benefit through wildlife tourism. Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve earn more than 5 Crore revenue from tourism every year and most of the share goes back to local communities. Also it has provided direct employment to around 2500 locals.  This is by following Supreme Court orders and NTCA guidelines. The similar picture can be seen in other Tiger Reserves of Vidarbha as well as India. We condemn this campaign and appeal to foreign tourist that our tribals are happy and their livelihood comes from tourism and conservation and not from bushmeat like Africa. 

The Nawegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve (NNTR) is closed for tourism on Thursday. Still the guides were gathered at Mangezari in Nagzira. Mukund Dhurve from NNTR said that tomorrow the guides will have separate meetings at Pitezari and Chorakhmara gates to  condemn this international campaign. 

 Abhijit Dutta, Asstt Director of Satpuda Foundation told in a press release that the act of SI will be explained in all the 7 Tiger reserves in central India. We will try to communicate the sentiments and opinion of our tribal communities to the global community.

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