India has more wild tigers than any other nation, but these big cats need room to roam and hunt. In fact, India’s tigers have lost about half of their habitat in just the past decade.
Because of dwindling tree cover in the buffer areas of tiger reserves, Satpuda Foundation, a NGO working for wildlife conservation and community development in central India, undertook a massive plantation drive in the buffer villages of six tiger reserves of central India including three in Maharashtra. School children and elders participated in this unique initiative.
During August, about 5,000 saplings were planted in the buffer villages including Tadoba, Pench and Navegaon-Nagzira in Maharashtra. On August 10, a tree plantation program was held at Adegaon near Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. Around 11 villagers, 2 teachers and 19 students from the village planted saplings.
A similar program was organized on August 15 at Moharli and at Katwal on August 31 in which 9 school committee members, 7 teachers and 47 students participated. They planted 35 saplings of Jamun, sitaphal, sisam, kaju, neem and mango. Satpuda’s Bandu Kumare had procured saplings from the forest department and distributed them to the schools.
In Navegaon-Nagzira, plantation program was taken up at Kodebarra, Koylari, Wadegaon, Beripar and Alezari where around 334 students participated to plant around 70 saplings. Conservation officer Mukund Dhurve also distributed sitafal saplings to women of Mangezari. The saplings were supplied by the forest department.
In Pench MP, the plantation program were conducted at Khamrith and Tuyepani where around 280 students and villagers planted around 1,810 saplings.
“We helped forest department distribute 1,610 saplings in Khamarpani and 1,200 saplings of bel, eucalyptus, jamun, bamboo and karanj in Tuyepani”, said Anoop Awasthi, assistant director of Satpuda.
In Kanha, similar drives were undertaken. “Our team encourages organic farming as part of our strategy to reduce impact of fertilizers on fields adjoining prime wildlife areas. Part of our work includes assistance to villagers in setting up vermi-compost tanks and compost pits,” said Amit Awasthi of Satpuda.
The plantation programs were also arranged in Pench Maharashtra and Satpuda Tiger Reserve in MP under the guidance of Conservation officer Ashfaq Aarbi.