Garo Hills in Meghalaya are home to the Indian Elephant and Western Hoolock Gibbon, which are losing their habitat due to human intervention. The population of both have halved over the years. So, under the initiative Enrich Not Exploit, skincare brand The Body Shop, in partnership with the World Land Trust and Wildlife Trust of India and tribals, will build the first-ever bio-bridge in India to protect the species and their habitat. Ten such bridges will be built across the world as part of the programme by 2020.
“The land corridor between Nokrek and Balpakram National Park will be secured through reforestation. Increasing the forest cover will help us in re-uniting the animals residing on the two areas of land,” says, Sunil Kyarong, Joint Director and Head Wild Lands, Wildfe Trust of India (WTI).
Scientific research has revealed that excessive jhumming cultivation—clearing a piece of land by setting fire and using the area to grow crops—make the land non-fertile after a few cycles, and it is a big concern in the area.“Our first step will be to work in coordination with the tribals, who own 90 per cent of the area in Meghalaya. We will also promote other modes of cultivation to save the ecosystem,” says WTI trustee Mrinal Pande.
Brand ambassador Jacqueline Fernandes will visit Garo Hills to raise awareness and mobilise crowds to contribute their bit for the cause.“Our aim is to raise a fund to build `1.8 million square km area, in the next two months. Every consumer buying our products will contribute in securing the forest cover,” says The Body Shop COO Shriti Malhotra.