Kolkata: Discovery India and WWF India have come together to protect the world’s only mangrove tiger habitat, in partnership with the Forest Directorate, Govt. of West Bengal and local communities in the Sundarbans. The initiative builds on WWF India’s work in the region to promote sustainable livelihoods, access to clean energy, and effective human-wildlife conflict management. By adopting an integrated approach, the project aims to assist the Forest Directorate for effectively managing populations of tiger, prey and their habitat in Sundarbans, and reduce human-tiger conflict. It will work with Panchayats help build resilient communities in this ecologically fragile and climatically vulnerable region.
The Sundarbans region is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which threatens the safety and livelihood of local communities. With a vision to create climate-smart villages in the Sundarbans, WWF India and Discovery India are working with government agencies, civil society partners and scientific institutions to build the capacity of village panchayats and local communities to incorporate climate resilience into development planning, thereby helping secure livelihoods, biodiversity and ecosystem services. The initiative also focuses on enhancing farmland productivity through low-cost measures, and adjusting crop calendars to deal with of climate change. The initiative will also include work towards securing habitats for tigers and prey species. This will entail building datasets on impacts of climate change on the estuarine ecosystem. Through this project, in partnership with the West Bengal Forest Directorate and IISER Kolkata two Sundarbans Ecological Observatories will be set up, each featuring data loggers, monitoring buoys and an onsite laboratory.
As part of the partnership, the Forest Directorate has also been supported with nylon net fences to prevent tigers from straying out to villages adjacent to the mangrove forests. Such nylon net fences have contributed greatly towards reducing human injuries and fatalities. A floating camp and speed boat are also being provided to the West Bengal Forest Directorate, to accelerate the response time of forest personnel during various emergency situations.
Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF India said, “This partnership between WWF India and Discovery India is significant as it brings together different institutions for the benefit of communities and wildlife of Sundarbans. This additionally includes the setting up of ecological observatories, reduction of human-wildlife conflict and providing scientific inputs for proper management.”
“The project at Sundarbans is part of a global movement – Project C.A.T – Conserving Acres for Tigers – aimed at building healthy habits for Tigers wherein we support conserve nearly six million acres of protected land across four countries. In India, beyond Sundarbans, a detailed intervention is also being implemented at Manas Tiger Reserve,” said, Megha Tata, Managing Director – South Asia, Discovery. “Discovery is a purpose-driven company with a mission to educate and inspire audiences around the world. We remain committed to leverage our brand strength to galvanize people power for the cause of Tigers and other endangered species.”