India is home to ~70% of the global tiger population present across central India, the Eastern and Western Ghats, the Shivalik and Gangetic plains, as well as the Northeastern hills and Brahmaputra plains. While peninsular India holds the highest abundance of tigers, the populations in the Northeastern hills and Brahmaputra plains are genetically distinct and crucial for tiger recovery in Southeast Asia.
The Northeastern region, especially Nagaland, holds tremendous potential for long-term conservation of tigers as source populations from Protected Areas in Kaziranga, Manas, Orang, and Dibang valley could lead to widespread population recovery in adjoining community forests home to remnant prey populations. Along with being rich in biodiversity, the region is also culturally diverse with more than 475 ethnic groups speaking 400+ languages and dialects. Many areas here remain unexplored and marginal, lacking access to infrastructure and markets.
The landscape is dotted with community-owned lands and community conserved areas and although local communities have a long history of resource use and management, in recent years, habitat degradation, land-use change, and hunting have emerged as serious and undeniable threats to conservation in the region. Traditionally, hunting was regulated with the help of social norms and taboos and one can find several examples of complex and nuanced cultural relationships with wildlife, including the tiger.
The aim of the project is to better understand these relationships, minimize threats to tiger habitats, and maximize prey availability, while enabling greater inclusivity of indigenous communities in tiger conservation.
The project will be carried out in the potential tiger corridor of Nagaland to facilitate the movement of tigers between India and Myanmar. It will be implemented in partnership with local communities and other stakeholders who depend on and manage these forests. The project seeks to build on stakeholder capacity, create structures for climate-smart agriculture, engage more deeply with eco-cultural heritage and enable an empathetic and nurturing nature awareness.
The project is in the pilot phase presently and relevant ethical and social safeguards are being put together to maximize our impact and engagement with communities.