UMRU BIODIVERSITY MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE Thekkady, Assam, India Saving the bamboo, protecting the Amur Umru Biodiversity Management Committee (Institution)
Celebrating the Champions of Biodiversity 2018 Umru is a remote, impoverished community comprising 20 tribal households in Assam. Evergreen forests cover the hills which protect it on three sides. Small paddy landholdings are interspersed with clumps of giant bamboo. Since 2010, thousands of Amur falcons settle on these bamboo clumps during migration. Local hunters and people from outside the village netted them in hundreds to use as food. However, hearing that similar congregations of Amur in neighboring areas were attracting tourists, the local community decided to protect the Umru roosting site.
Need for the Initiative
Bamboo is one of the few products which earn these poor villagers a small amount of money in the local market. Yet, everyone has now agreed that it needs to be protected for the falcons, so that ecotourism can become an alternate source of livelihood. The bamboo is owned either by the community or individually. If an individual villager wants to sell some of his bamboo, the community negotiates a financial agreement with him to prevent the plant being cut down. India Naturally! n Celebrating the Champions of Biodiversity 2018 .
Conservation Initiatives and Impacts
A patrol group has been set up. Members have been trained to prevent unsustainable harvesting of bamboo and poaching of the Amur. The community has also developed a special affection for the Amur, and has stopped using it as food. These tribes have traditional ways of cooking rice and local vegetables which are sure to appeal to tourists. They have a detailed plan for eco-tourism housing facilities and a nature trail through the forested hills. There are, however, no college-educated people in Umru and the local school has classes only up to Standard 3. The people, therefore, feel they need to learn more about attracting tourists. Meanwhile, visitors have already begun trickling into Umru, and the villagers hope the flow will swell once news of the attractions spreads across India.
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