Project #13824

Securing Tiger and Elephant Habitat in India

by Wildlife Conservation Society
Elephant on vacated lands
Elephant on vacated lands

Happy New Year from the Wildlife Conservation Society! Thank you to all of our GlobalGiving supporters for your incredible generosity this past year—your contributions have been instrumental to securing healthy habitat for tigers, elephants, and other wildlife in India.

Some promising news from the field: WCS is currently in final land purchase negotiations with the only two families living in a protected area in the Western Ghats mountains of south India. This protected area is home to critical populations of numerous highly threatened endemic species, including the regal lion-tailed macaque, as well as many unique frogs, birds, and plants. It also serves as the only corridor between two major populations of tigers and Asian elephants in south India, making the recovery of this habitat a high priority. We are hugely grateful for the support of our GlobalGiving donors, who provided the primary source of funding for this effort.

WCS is also in exploratory negotiations with three families living in the middle of a second protected area of the Western Ghats. They are the only families living in this protected area, which is important not only for Asian elephants and tigers, but is also home to a major population of dhole (Asiatic wild dogs), a stunning rust-colored dog species of Asia that is now highly endangered. We are still working on securing the funds to purchase these lands, so we very much hope you will be inspired to continue supporting this project in 2015.

We look forward to sharing more news from India with you soon. From all of us at WCS, thank you for your amazing support!

Dholes (Asiatic wild dogs)
Dholes (Asiatic wild dogs)

We are proud to report that WCS has been very active on land purchase efforts in the past few months. In March, after much negotiation, WCS was successful in purchasing the lands of the three families that live in Naifed village, which is located in Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve. These families – the first to ever voluntarily relocate out of Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve – moved out immediately, and with assistance from WCS they have found new homes outside of the Tiger Reserve. Their houses (see photo above of one of the houses) have since been demolished and the lands have been handed over to the Government of India. These lands are now incorporated into Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve and are reverting back to a wild state.

The purchase of these lands in Naifed by WCS achieved something we very much hoped for, and which was the key aim of our efforts in Dandeli-Anshi: catalyzing the movement of other families out of the Tiger Reserve through the Government of India’s voluntary relocation mechanism. In April, after seeing the positive results for the families in Naifed, 30 families scattered across four villages in Dandeli-Anshi requested and received voluntary relocation funds from the Government of India to move out. These families are now 100% on the track to voluntary resettlement and they are scheduled to do their final house demolitions and move out of the Tiger Reserve in September, after the summer monsoons.

There are about 2,000 families living in Dandeli-Anshi and we believe it will require a long-term commitment by WCS for their voluntary relocation. However, we are confident that these 30 families are just the first of many who will voluntarily move out of Dandeli-Anshi, now that they have seen it done successfully. We know this because WCS has applied the same approach before with great success in Nagarahole National Park, where the very first relocation efforts in the early 2000s of just a few families resulted in the resettlement of over 400 families outside the park during the subsequent ten years, freeing up large areas for tigers and elephants to return. With your help, we have been able to move the first families out of Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve – a critical first step in the process.

In addition to efforts in Dandeli-Anshi, WCS also continued land purchase efforts in Kudremukh National Park. In contrast to Dandeli-Anshi (where the primary aim was to catalyze others to move out), lands were purchased in Kudremukh to ensure that large, critical regions of Kudremukh were freed from human enclosures. In particular, there is a small cluster of just a few houses in an enclosure called the “SK Border.” Only two families live in SK Border, which is the only human enclosure in a region that is otherwise tens of square kilometers of forested lands (home to tigers, elephants, and many other endangered species). In March, one of the two families sold their land and demolished their house and moved out, followed by the second family in April. The lands of SK Border have since been handed over to Kudremukh National Park.

It has been a very productive few months and we hope you enjoyed this good news from Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve and Kudremukh National Park. From all of us at WCS, thank you for your contribution to saving wildlife and supporting local communities in India. We couldn’t do it without your help!

Top photo: One of the houses in Naifed village that was demolished after the families voluntarily moved out.
Bottom photo: The cluster of houses that make up SK Border. In April 2014 they were all demolished.

Photo credits: WCS.

Dear Wildlife Conservation Society supporters,

Just wanted to share a bit of news: Wednesday, February 12 is GlobalGiving's first Bonus Day of the year! All donations will be matched by 30% beginning at 9 AM (EST) until funds run out. This means a donation of $100 will raise an additional $30 in matching funds, increasing the impact of your gift! We hope you will consider using this opportunity to support WCS’s efforts to secure important tiger and Asian elephant habitat in India

Kudremukh National Park, in the heart of the Western Ghats of Karnataka, has one of the largest tracts of protected rain forests in India and harbors rare, endangered, and endemic wild flora and fauna, including tiger and lion-tailed macaque. Unfortunately, this protected forest is continuously threatened by the presence of over 1,300 families settled in remote and isolated hamlets; these families face constant conflict with wildlife, live in marooned conditions lacking even basic amenities, and are deprived of the benefits of government developmental programs with no hope for better livelihoods.

In an effort to address these problems, WCS first implemented the land purchase project in 2003 in the Bhagavathi settlement inside Kudremukh National Park, through which 8 families were successfully relocated with fair and just compensation. Since then, WCS has relocated over 55 families in Kudremukh under this model. The lands relinquished by these families are then merged with Kudremukh, thus giving them legal protection and rendering inviolate space for wildlife. In addition, WCS remains actively involved in providing effective and continued post-relocation support to the relocated families.

We are so proud to report that today, after a decade of continued efforts towards voluntary relocation driven by WCS and with support from the Government of India, more than 600 families living inside Kudremukh National Park have submitted applications seeking voluntary relocation. With your support, we can continue to assist families in moving outside key habitats and ensure that these areas are free of human-wildlife conflict and safe for tigers, elephants, and other species. 

Top photo: Bhagavathi settlement, with numerous domestic livestock, before relocation efforts. Bottom photo: Bhagavathi after relocation - gaur (tiger prey) return to the area

Mundsara after relocation efforts
Mundsara after relocation efforts

Thank you for your wonderful support of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s land purchase project in India! With your help, this project continues to significantly minimize human-wildlife conflict and create inviolate habitat for wildlife, including tigers and elephants, while improving the livelihoods of relocated families outside forest areas.

Most recently, WCS facilitated the relocation of 16 families in Mundsara and Uruni, two settlements located deep inside Kudremukh National Park. These settlements were chosen due to their remoteness and isolation, the difficult living conditions for the communities residing within them, and the ecological importance of the area. After negotiating a fair compensation package for these families, WCS helped them move outside the park and now regularly provides post-relocation assistance to ensure that they receive the benefits of living outside the protected area, which include access to health care, educational opportunities, and other essential services.

Thanks to your support, these families are now living in improved conditions free from conflict with wildlife, while key habitat for tigers, elephants, and other species are given the opportunity to recover. On behalf of WCS and our staff in India, thank you!

The photo above depicts Mundsara enclosure, which will begin to recover for wildlife now that it has been cleared of human settlements. Below, villagers in Uruni work to dismantle their houses after receiving fair compensation packages to move outside the park.

Uruni villagers dismantling their houses
Uruni villagers dismantling their houses
Gulabi with WCS staff on moving day
Gulabi with WCS staff on moving day

Thanks so much for your support of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s efforts to secure important tiger and Asian elephant habitat in India. By purchasing key habitat and facilitating the relocation of communities living within protected areas, this program not only frees up land for wildlife, but also helps provide impoverished communities with access to improved livelihood opportunities.

We are pleased to report that our efforts to relocate families living in the village of Singsara in Kudremukh National Park are going very well. Out of the original 20 families living in Singsara, WCS has facilitated the relocation of 19 of them to areas outside the park, where they will be free from conflict with wildlife and have better access to improved livelihoods. Gulabi and her family, shown in the photographs, are among the most recent villagers to relocate with the support of WCS at every step of the process.

The long-term conservation of India’s wildlife, including its tigers and elephants, is dependent on the creation of large patches of lands that are free from human habitation. Unfortunately, the country’s protected areas are honeycombed with human settlements, which pose threats such as habitat fragmentation and poaching. In addition, these families live in poverty and are cut off from the benefits of India’s modern economy. In order to address the needs of both people and wildlife, WCS has devised this win-win solution: a program for consolidating wildlife habitat through the voluntary relocation of these communities outside protected areas.

The last photo depicts land that was previously cleared of human settlements with tiger prey species grazing, including axis deer and gaur. Over time, prey species increase in number and eventually tiger numbers in turn begin to rise.  

From all of us at WCS, thanks again for your support of this important project. These efforts will help conserve India’s tigers, elephants, and other wildlife for future generations.

Gulabi and family with signed relocation agreement
Gulabi and family with signed relocation agreement
Photos (c) Dharnappa M; Ramachandra Bhat; WCS
Photos (c) Dharnappa M; Ramachandra Bhat; WCS

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Organization Information

Wildlife Conservation Society

Location: Bronx, New York - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Wildlife Conservation Society
Project Leader:
Kim Chua
Development Associate
Bronx, New York United States

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