Wisdom of the wild


  • Reminiscing about the past brings no faraway look in 60-year-old Nanjan Ginbantan’s eyes. The Irula tribesman’s face is animated as he recounts the vast colonies of vultures he would see even 40 years ago.


  • It was a common sight near his village, Anaikatty, which borders the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve near Masinagudi in Tamil Nadu. “Forty years ago, there were at least 500 to 1,000 vultures here. Three months ago, which was when I last sighted some, there were just 20 circling in the sky.”
  • Vulture nesting sites, says Ginbantan, have decreased drastically. “For example, the 6-10 nests we always saw in Siriyur village till 2014 are no longer there.”
  • Ginbantan has other interesting insights into vulture behaviour. It’s not vultures, but crows that find carcasses first, he says; vultures note the aggregation of crows and then fly down to the dead animal.
  • Interestingly, researchers in Kenya discovered a similar system of ‘information scrounging’ by Gyps vultures (species of the same genus are seen near Ginbantan’s village too) four years ago, where vultures locate carcasses by borrowing information from scavenging eagles.

Tribal Communities in Conservation (Plus+)

Tribe Conservation effort/Traditional Knowledge help Location Features
Irula Vulture conservation in Mudumalai tiger reserve ü  An Adivasi group inhabiting the area of the Nilgiri mountains, in Tamil Nadu and Kerala ü  A scheduled tribe

ü  Speak Irula, which belongs to the Dravidian family.

ü  They have a dark skin complexion.

ü  Traditional occupation was snake and rat catching.

Muthuvan Helped British to identify the best valleys and hillslopes in Anamalai Mountains for tea and coffee plantations. ü  the forested areas of the southern Western Ghats ü  Loyal subjects of the dynasty of Madurai, migrated to Kerala according to tribal legend.

ü  Literal meaning of “Muthuvar” is elders.

ü  Very independent and reluctant to interact with the outside world.

ü  Grows ragi, cardamom, banana, tapioca and lemon grass.

Kadar Helped British to identify the best valleys and hillslopes in Anamalai Mountains for tea and coffee plantations. ü  the forested areas of the southern Western Ghats, Kerala ü  Also identifies as Kadir and converse in an ancient language which is a blend of both Tamil and Malayalam languages.

ü  Nomadic.

ü  one of the six endangered food gatherers

ü  maintain their originality and culture without adapting the changes

ü  Widow Remarriage is not allowed. Polygamy is prevalent

Kani Identification of the only tree crab of the Western Ghats (Kani maranjandu) ü  the Western Ghats area of Kerala ü  Their use of the forest plant ‘arogyapacha’ as a key ingredient in a herbal remedy called Jeevani was commercialized.
Adi Soil Conservation in the North East ü  Arunachal Pradesh

ü  Tibet (called Lhoba along with Mishmi)

ü  The Adi are recognized as one of the 56 ethnic groups of China.

ü  The older term Abor is a exonym from Assamese and its literal meaning is “independent”

ü  The literal meaning ofadi is “hill” or “mountain top”.

ü  The language spoken by this group is also called Adi. They also speak Nefamese

ü  Practice wet rice cultivation and have a considerable agricultural economy.

ü  Traditionally follow the tribal Donyi-Polo religion.

Toda Shola-cum-grassland conservation ü  the Nilgiri Mountains of Tamil Nadu. ü  A Dravidian ethnic group

ü  Traditionally live in settlements called mund.

ü  Their economy was pastoral, based on the buffalo.

ü  Toda religion features the sacred buffalo.

ü  Fraternal polyandry has now bwwn completely abandoned.

Malasar Traditional custom of wild tuber harvesting. ü  Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, Kerala

ü  Tamil Nadu

ü  A scheduled tribe

ü  One of the earliest known inhabitants of the Western Ghats, in Anaimalai Hills.

ü  Malasar is also an unclassified Southern Dravidian language

Soliga/ Sholaga Traditional control of invasive lantana in Biligiri-rangaswamy Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in southern Karnataka. ü  Biligiri-ranga Hills, Karnataka

ü  Chamarajanagar and Erode, Tamil Nadu.

ü  A scheduled tribe

ü  Speak Sholaga, which belongs to the Dravidian family.

ü  Used to practice shifting cultivation.

ü  Follow naturism and animism along with some Hindu practices.

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