India Tribe Law Damaging to Tigers?

India Tribe Law Damaging to Tigers?
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Forest guards watch tribal workers clearing brush and planting trees inside Buxa Tiger Reserve in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal on November 4, 2007.

The forest-dwellers are working at the behest of Buxa's forest authorities in exchange for the right to grow vegetables on land strips between seed rows.

For the past year the Indian government has been frantically trying to resolve the impasse between tribal rights groups and conservationists and begin enforcement of the Recognition of Forest Rights Act, passed in 2006.

One proposed solution would be to create core areas inside reserves that are to remain human-free surrounded by a buffer zone where animals and humans would co-exist and commercial activities such as mining and plantation work could continue.

It remains to be seen what courses of action the Indian government will actually adopt.

"We will have to give a fair deal to people as well as tigers," said Rajesh Gopal, inspector general of forests and member secretary of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, "and strive for a complete harmony between the two."

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—Photograph by Paroma Basu
 
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