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Pali villagers in Rajasthan embark on a mission to protect leopards


Times of India, New Delhi, 29 April, 2015

 

Rachna Singh, 

JAIPUR: In a commendable initiative, villagers of three panchayats in Pali have come together and unanimously agreed to form a community reserve to protect the leopard.

 

The draft notification of 'Jawai Bandh Leopard Community Reserve - T' is awaiting nod from the government. Once notified, it would be the largest community reserve in the country, where villagers would say no to mining and yes to protecting the forest and the leopard.

 

Official sources said, "The demand for the community reserve came from the villagers of three panchayats. For ages, the villagers and the leopards have peacefully co-existed in the area and there have been no instance of a conflict. Villages consider it a legacy which they have to preserve for the next generation. Under the Wild Life Protection Act 1972, the 'Jawai Bandh Leopard Community Reserve' would act as a buffer zone to the Jawai Bandh Leopard Conservation Reserve."

 

At the moment, there are four community reserves spreading over a total of 20 square kilometres in the country. The Jawai Bandh Leopard Community Reserve would spread over 98 square kilometres.

 

"This would be a great step in leopard conservation. While leopard population across the country is witnessing a steady decline, it is only in Jawai that its number is increasing. The notification of a community reserve would go a long way in showcasing a community that protects the animals," said Shatrunjay Singh Ranawat, a wildlife enthusiast working for the leopard conservation.

 

According to the draft notification, the panchayats of villages Villar, Chamunderi and Lundara (occupying over 9780.22 Ha) have voluntarily agreed to join hands for the community reserve.

 

"The area is adjacent to the conservation reserve and would provide a contiguous area for the protection of the leopard habitat. This would also mean that the onus of the management of the reserve would rest with the panchayat," said Shatrunjay.

 

On the flip side, after the notification, several mines of felspar & quartz in Villar region will have to be shut down.

 

In less than 5 Ha area, the mines are operating in close proximity to the forest, disturbing wild animals.

 

"If the government is serious about environment and bio-diversity, these mining leases can be cancelled. The Union ministry of mines had issued a notification on February 10, 2015, wherein 31 minerals were classified as minor minerals including felspar & quartz. Since a minor mineral's lease now can be terminated by the state government, it should be no impediment in notifying the community reserve and empowering people to take care of the forest and environment," said Shatrunjay.

 

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/flora-fauna/Pali-villagers-in-Rajasthan-embark-on-a-mission-to-protect-leopards/articleshow/47090329.cms