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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2008  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 185-189

The Policy of Reduction of Cattle Populations from Protected Areas: A Case Study from Buxa Tiger Reserve, India


Institute of Development Studies Kolkata, Calcutta University, Alipore Campus, 1 Reformatory Street, Kolkata 700027, West Bengal, India

Correspondence Address:
Bidhan Kanti Das
Institute of Development Studies Kolkata, Calcutta University, Alipore Campus, 1 Reformatory Street, Kolkata 700027, West Bengal
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.49212

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In India, as elsewhere, protected areas (PAs) have permanent resident populations who are historically dependent on forest resources for their livelihood. The Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR), in the northern part of West Bengal, is one such reserve forest where villagers have been residing for more than a 100 years. With the creation of a national park, employment opportunities for the forest villagers, who were once treated as an important labour force during the commercial forestry regime, have drastically declined. To reduce pressure on forest resources at the BTR, the World Bank financed India Ecodevelopment Project (IEDP) was initiated with the aim to involve local people by supporting sustainable alternative income­generating activities. In consonance with the dominant view that livestock grazing in bio-diverse regions is destructive to nature, reduction in cattle populations and stall feeding of cattle have been included as reciprocal commitments under this project. This paper is an attempt to assess whether the strategy of cat­tle reduction is really possible. It also tries to explore how far a reduction of cattle is acceptable or feasi­ble in the context of present findings, especially in India. Results show that there is little impact on cattle populations after the project intervention. However, the slow but consistently decreasing trend in cattle populations is evident for other reasons. This article argues that as cattle are an integral part of the rural economy for marginalised groups in PAs like the BTR, where alternative employment opportunities are very limited, the reduction or removal of cattle may not be a viable option as it will adversely affect the livelihood of these vulnerable communities. A more pragmatic approach of rotational grazing would be fruitful for preservation of protected forest areas in countries like India.


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