Bone of contention

Bone of contention  every year, a series of conflicts between the villagers and the forest officials disturbs the tranquillity of the Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan. This year, on 21st July the forest guards even resorted to firing 17 rounds during a clash with 10 villagers of the Uliana village, who were found grazing a herd of some 150 buffaloes in the core area of the park.

Declared a sanctuary in 1955, the Ranthambhore National Park covers an area of 393 square kilometres. A treat for wildlife enthusiasts, even us presi-dent Bill Clinton took time off from his hectic visit to India to trail the tigers. The park constitutes a core area, which is the restricted territory, and a buffer area, which is inhabited by the villagers. This division is the root of all the conflicts.

The villagers have been depended on the park resources for centuries to meet their daily fuel and fodder needs. After their resettlement outside the core area of the park, they feel they have been denied access to the natural resources of the forest, they once called home. But, park authorities feel conservation is possible only when there are no human intrusions in the core area of the park.

"The number of conflicts increases during the monsoon season as heavy rainfall prevents us from protecting our fields from the park animals, who destroy them completely. Left with no option we have to trespass into the restricted areas of the park and allow our animals to graze there. This leads to a conflict,' says Jayaram, a resident of Uliana.

"The conflict between the villagers and the officials can be dated back to the time when

Related Content