An Endeavor of Women Empowerment
Project by: Himani Nautiyal
How kiwi cultivation can bring tolerance? Unlike African wildlife, langurs do not provide ecotourism revenue and cultural value for local people, but based on our preliminary research farmers’ negative attitude towards problem-causing langurs might have a cultural basis but is also in great part due to their low socioeconomic status, which can be changed through alternative income sources. Namely, in nearly 95% of all local agricultural work, the collection of fodder and firewood is done by women. Despite their central role as caregivers and providers, women receive very little return for their efforts and do not often obtain the right financial backing from men. Limited access to agricultural tools and knowledge about new practices limits the scope of reducing time and labor efforts for female cultivators. Agriculture in mountainous terrain is extremely difficult and requires high labor. Women farmers spend several hours in the field and when wildlife destroy their crop they show aggression towards them.
Women have a higher dependency on income through low-profit businesses such as milk selling and have many cattle to feed on a daily basis, which is causing high pressure in the surrounding forest.Providing basic education and the means to obtain alternative incomes empowers women, providing them with alternative choices and means to sustainably utilize forest resources, and this, in turn, indirectly promotes the conservation of wildlife and natural resources.
However, based on my data, women do have a positive attitude toward langurs and other wildlife but it because of the economic factor they often have negative interaction with the wildlife. I have explained the scientific reasons above but as a woman who is also from the same community, I am certain if they have a crop that is not damaged by animals and in return gives economic benefit they will surely change their attitude towards animals. I have found Kiwi fruit cultivation to be an ideal solution as the climate of the Mandal valley is very suitable for this species’ growth. Kiwi has a high market value, is not damaged by wildlife, and requires little labor work. We are therefore taking into account the deep knowledge acquired by the local communities, which report that kiwi is not damaged by any wildlife.
Community Tree Planting Initiative
In support of women empowerment and focusing on the influence agriculture and crop type have on the livelihood of women and the local economy, the Himalayan Langur Team is planting native tree species in collaboration with local villagers.