Traditional Gond communities living at Pench usually live on the fringes of its protected areas. These tribals are economically compromised, and resort to subsistence farming and labour to sustain themselves.
However, uncertain monsoons and the destruction of their crops by wild herbivores make survival on agriculture difficult. So in 2014, CWT conducted a study to understand the needs of the locals.
Methods to generate income that are sustainable were identified and economic models of self-help groups have been created.
Skills are being imparted and ways to link them to the market continue to be established. Currently there is a stitching school where women tailor clothes, paper production to create innovative products, and village-based tours that are curated. All of these are marketed under the CWT brand Tiger Tribes.
As an ongoing process of livelihood intervention, there will be several upcoming projects to look forward to as well.
CWT has established “silai” or stitching schools in Kolitmara, Dahoda and Satosa gram panchayats in Pench, Maharashtra and MP.
The school, in collaboration with Usha International Limited, runs a tailoring program that has a beneficiary population of close to 90 women in the three village clusters.
The trust is working on establishing market links for the women workers to ensure that they receive a steady income. The trust hopes that such skills will inspire entrepreneurial endeavours in the long term.
Women from these villages are currently being taught to make handmade paper, bags and products from the fabric waste of a textile mill.
By encouraging thoughtful and sustainable ways of creation, the result is an original upcycled product.
The goods embody a contemporary, global aesthetic, and not only are the women empowered financially, they are even changing the perception of recycled materials since waste is being used to create an asset.
Community-managed rural tourism is a way for traditional societies to earn an income as well as feel the incentive to conserve their environment and way of life.
A unique program under the Tiger Tribes brand has been created with some partnerships. The Gond tribal villagers are taught entrepreneurial and management skills to help them manage hospitality businesses. And the tours that they conduct are designed to showcase their ancient lifestyle, stories, art and surrounding nature.
Visitors to Pench have a variety of ways to immerse themselves in local ways:
A short walk through a tribal village where a guide showcases the traditional lifestyle and housing. Tourists can purchase local produce and merchandise at the end of the tour.
Visitors will be taken through defined routes in the buffer zone, where the village guides share their lore on animals and plant life. It includes an education in the biodiversity, geology, geography and ecology of the region.
VILLAGE LIFE IMMERSION
Here’s a chance to experience the life of a local with daily chores such as chopping wood, learning traditional cooking, tending and milking cattle, drawing water from the well and more.
Learning hands-on techniques and practices for growing grains, vegetables and fruit using traditional practices.
TEA ON A MACHAAN
Constructed above the ground from local materials, a machaan platform offers wide-angle views of the forest, and is the perfect spot for visitors to sip on traditional village tea and snack on sumptuous savories.
Find out more about booking a Tiger Tribes trail.
Started with an intention to help revitalize traditionally occurring kitchen gardens attached to the homes of the village community.
Using permaculture principles, CWT aims to assist in the farming of vegetables to suffice the daily needs of a family. Equally important is the fact that the kitchen gardens will provide and reinforce a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet.
With the loss in diversity of food, when forests communities are stopped from the practice of foraging in the forest, their diets are nutritionally imbalanced leading to chronic ailments like anemia. Surplus produce will be sold to neighboring hotels with an intention to provide an additional income.