Mumbai: The Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched today the ‘Tiger Matters’ film, showcasing three years of extensive, critical conservation interventions executed by WCT and USAID in the Central India region.
Central India is home to over 600 tigers and accounts for more than 30 percent of India’s tiger population. Additionally, nearly one-third of India’s human population resides in the region, creating a complex and challenging landscape that needs to safeguard the interests of both local communities and forests.
Commenting on the need to create holistic conservation interventions, Dr. Anish Andheria, President of WCT, remarked: “With a rise in poorly-planned development projects and increasing human-wildlife conflict, conservation efforts today need to lay equal emphasis on empowering local communities as well as protecting our forests. Through the Tiger Matters programme, WCT and USAID are working together to set a benchmark for all future conservation projects in India.”
Mary Melnyk, Environmental Security and Resilience Team Leader at USAID, added, “All of us value clean air and clean water for our families, especially for our children. Forests and tigers are important links to the quality of all our lives. Tiger landscapes protect the hundreds of rivers in Central India, while forests clear and cool the air, and we must remember that tigers are the golden thread of biodiversity in the fabric of life.”
The ‘Tiger Matters’ programme is an on-going collaboration between WCT and USAID focused on safeguarding the Central Indian landscape. The multi-pronged approach that involves every major player in the landscape, ranging from policy makers to on-ground forest staff, to NGOs and local communities, focuses on strengthening frontline forest staff through trainings, provision of equipment and regular health check-ups. The project also works to empower local communities through education and livelihood programmes to reduce their dependency on forest resources.
The project is currently conducting India’s largest camera trapping exercise outside of tiger reserves in order to monitor tiger and leopard populations; and understand tiger movement for improved tiger conservation.
The film launch at Mumbai was attended by leading Indian conservationists, college students and wildlife enthusiasts. At the launch, a panel discussion on “Ecology, the Bedrock of Economy” was held between renowned conservationists Bittu Sahgal, Founder, Sanctuary Asia; Debi Goenka, Executive Trustee, Conservation Action Trust; Ketki Angre, noted journalist, Mirror Online, and Dr. Anish Andheria.
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