Parambikulam Tiger Reserve spread over 248.5 sq mi in Kerala in South India is making a case for conserving India’s national animal, the tiger.
The Professionals working in Parambikulam Tiger Conservation Foundation (PaTCoF) support the tiger reserve and its adjoining landscape for scientific monitoring of wildlife, professional support to implement ecotourism programmes and the like. Since 2015-16 Annual Tiger Monitoring Exercise is being conducted by professionals of the PaTCoF being the major management input in understanding the population dynamics of the tiger and co-predators in the landscape.
In addition, surveys of birds, butterflies, odonates, fishes, reptiles and amphibians, Nilgiri Tahr, are being conducted at regular intervals. The grasslands and waterholes, which are critical habitats, are being monitored annually and a strong baseline database has been created. The PaTCoF has taken the lead in carrying out All Kerala Tiger Monitoring using camera traps in the entire forest areas of the Kerala State. This was a revolutionary step which is presently in the process of replication by other states of India.
The professionals of PaTCoF carry out regular training/capacity building programmes to the staff of the tiger reserve as well as adjoining landscapes. For tiger and elephant population estimations, trainings are being carried out by the professionals at the state-level.
The innovative nature of the model is that resources are generated locally through low impact ecotourism and it is being pumped back for the development of the local community and for protection and upgradation of the Tiger Reserve. This is thereby a self-sustaining model and being run without any additional financial burden of the public exchequer.
Parambikulam Foundation remains to be the only entity that provides meaningful livelihood opportunities to the tribal inhabitants of Parambikulam Foresto Logistics arranged by PaTCoF ensured more than 90% vaccination during COVID lockdown and also that essential supplies were provided to local communities avoiding shortages.
A total of 266 members from local tribes are being meaningfully employed in Parambikulam Tiger Reserve through PaTCoF as protection watchers, tiger monitoring watchers and for running various ecotourism programs. They were named as Social Tiger Protection Force (STPF) and are solely supported with the income of PaTCoF. Local communities have no other livelihood means in this remote corner of the Kerala State and all this local force helps in protection, information sharing and conservation of PKMTR thereby strengthening the protection of the reserve.
The community-based ecotourism programme is being carried out in Parambikulam Tiger Reserve through PaTCoF with a sole aim of socio-economic development of the local communities who in turn support the protection of the Tiger Reserve. About 75% of the total income to PaTCoF (for the period between 2015-16 and 2019-20) has been spent for the socio-economic development of the local communities thereby being the pillar that supports the local economy.
Due to reduction in resource dependency from the part of the local communities, there has been significant improvement of protection of the Tiger Reserve in terms of poaching, fire and other illegal activities. There is no poaching and no major wildfires reported in PKMTR during the last 10 years.
I spoke to Vysak Sasikumar, Indian Forest Service, Deputy Director, Parambikulam Tiger Reserve who explained the project in detail. Read the full story that first appeared in Wild Watch Binocular here: