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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 263-270

Relocation from Wildlife Reserves in the Greater and Trans-Himalayas: Is it Necessary?


Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5 IV Cross, Gokulam Park, Mysore 570 020, Karnataka, India and Snow Leopard Trust-India, 4649 Sunnyside Avenue, North Suite 325, Seattle, WA 98103, USA

Correspondence Address:
Yash Veer Bhatnagar
Nature Conservation Foundation, 3076/5 IV Cross, Gokulam Park, Mysore 570 020, Karnataka, India and Snow Leopard Trust-India, 4649 Sunnyside Avenue, North Suite 325, Seattle, WA 98103, USA

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.49219

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The Greater and Trans-Himalayan tracts are cold deserts that have severe seasonal and resource scarce environments. Covering the bulk of Indian Himalayas, they are a rich repository of biodiversity values and ecosystem services. The region has a large protected area (PA) network which has not been com­pletely effective in conserving these unique values. The human population densities are much lower (usually < 1 per sq km) than in most other parts of the country (over 300 to a sq km). How ever, even such small populations can come into conflict with strict PA laws that demand large inviolate areas, which can mainly be achieved through relocation of the scattered settlements. In this paper , I reason that in this landscape relocation is not a tenable strategy for conservation due to a variety of reasons. The primary ones are that wildlife, including highly endangered ones are pervasive in the larger landscape (unlike the habitat 'islands' of the forested ecosystems) and existing large PAs usually encompass only a small pro­portion of this range. Similarly, traditional use by people for marginal cultivation, biomass extraction and pastoralism is also as pervasive in this landscape. There does exist pockets of conflict and these are prob­ably increasing owing to a variety of changes relat ing to modernisation. However, scarce resources, the lack of alternatives and the traditional practice of clear-cut division of all usable areas and pastures be­tween communities make resettlement of people outside PAs extremely difficult. It is reasoned that given the widespread nature of the wildlife and pockets of relatively high density, it is important to prioritise these smaller areas for conservation in a scenario where they form a mosaic of small 'cores' that are more effectively maintained with local support and that enable wildlife to persist. These ideas have recently gained widespread acceptance in both government and conservation circles and may soon become part of national strategy for these areas.


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