Arthi Venkatesham, Bhumani Venkatesham And Damsam Mallaiah
Courtesy: Andhra Pradesh Forest Department.
Month Year: December 2010
JOINT WILDLIFE SERVICE AWARD
They are living proof that change is possible. Among our nation's most celebrated tribal communities, the Chenchus were once hunter gatherers. Instead of being lured by the all-powerful wildlife trade, these young men, more visionary than most of their urban counterparts, chose to join forces with forest officials as far back as 2001 and are now key to the park's anti-poaching strategy. These brave guards were instrumental in a massive crackdown on the deadly Bahelia poaching network, which proved to have links to the gangs that eliminated tigers from Sariska. Not only are they able to help retrieve traps and snares, they are also able to track poachers to their hideouts in the jungle with consummate skill. Researchers say that these tribal guards are able to provide them with in-depth information on the behaviour, hunting, nesting and breeding of various wild species. They also provide invaluable assistance in enumeration and monitoring meta populations, habitat viability and predator-prey analysis. As many as 300 Chenchu tribals are now part of the defence of the Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, XXX No. 6, December 2010.