Bandipur Yuva Mitra a hit with forest dwellers

As they are expected to play a vital role in forest protection, it was decided to take them inside to show why and how they can help in forest conservation.
Representational image: Tiger hiding behind a bush at Bandipur Tiger Reserve. (Photo | EPS)
Representational image: Tiger hiding behind a bush at Bandipur Tiger Reserve. (Photo | EPS)

BENGALURU: While organising the Bandipur Yuva Mitra, forest department officials found that 90% of the people staying around the forests have not been to Bandipur Tiger Reserve (BTR) or on a jungle safari.
The forest department started the Yuva Mitra programme to increase awareness about the importance of forest conservation, reduce man-animal conflict and encroachment with the help of citizens to create a better forest protection barrier. It was started 72 days ago, and 3,900 people have participated so far.

BTR Director Ramesh Kumar P told TNIE that the programme is a day-long workshop where people attend a three-hour indoor session, a three-hour field session and a safari. At the end of the day,  a quiz is conducted and they are given certificates of participation.

He said that while the target audience is residents of five taluks surrounding the forest -- Chamarajanagar, Gundlupet, Kotte, Nanjangud and Saragu -- others interested can also participate. While interacting with those attending the event, it was found that about 90% of them have never been to forests.

As they are expected to play a vital role in forest protection, it was decided to take them inside to show why and how they can help in forest conservation.

The target is to make at least 15,000 people take part in the programme annually. Bandipur has drawn the attention of tourists, government officials and conservationists alike because it has the highest tiger, elephant and leopard population.

The programme has also caught the attention of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). They have recognised it and shown interest to be knowledge partners for the programme. Many government schools have also shown interest to partner with the department, Kumar said.

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