by Tushna Karkaria & Devendra Podhade
We started our day with an informative lecture on the wildlife-human interface and the importance in the relocation of people living inside protected areas by government-funded incentive-based schemes. Dr Shivani Barthwal gave us an insight into the different protected areas in India and how important they are for the people residing in these areas who are dependent on them. We visited Kraska village located in the core area of the reserve and interacted with the villagers to improve our understanding regarding relocation and their lifestyle. After an hour of the bumpy ride, we were mesmerised to see a beautiful village made of small mud houses and a lake in the middle of a forest. We got a glimpse into their world and enjoyed talking to the youth who were full of energy and enthusiasm. They told us how they relied heavily on their livestock for milk which was then made into milk-cake which was the sole income for most of the houses. The majority were willing to shift outside the PA if proper compensation was provided by the government. After some tea and snacks, the women sang their traditional songs and showed us some dance moves that we tried to match. In the afternoon we had a lecture by Dr M A Hussain on Aquatic fauna of India. We learnt how freshwater species are facing a major threat and why it’s important to conserve them. There was an interesting presentation on reptile biology and topics like their physiology and temperature-dependent sex determination were discussed. All the groups shared their experience of the visit to the village and we concluded that the generation gap affected the attitude of the villagers as the young and educated preferred to live in the cities. We played the “telephone game” which made us understand the importance of clear and loud communication. We ended our day with a brief presentation on the communication of wildlife veterinary issues and the threat of zoonotic diseases.