This has reference to a report dated 13-11-2017 in the online news publication The Wire, titled ‘Are Conservation Organisations Complicit in Ethnic Discrimination’.
First, and unequivocally, we at Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) acknowledge that the design of the poster mentioned in the report is indeed problematic, particularly in terms of the overwhelmingly punitive relationship it conveys between enforcement agencies and local/migrant populations that live on the outskirts of Protected Areas. However, the article seems to level a charge of conscious racism and / or ethnic discrimination in a systemic sense. To this, we as a responsible conservation organisation must protest.
WTI has long understood that the long-term success of any conservation initiative hinges on the support and active participation of local communities.
WTI has long understood that the long-term success of any conservation initiative hinges on the support and active participation of local communities. We firmly believe that conservation cannot be successful by making poor people poorer: in the ongoing antipathy between people and wildlife it is the poor that most often lose lives and livelihoods; we cannot require them to also disproportionately bear the costs of conservation.
In our field projects around the country, we work with and not against local communities, to reduce dependence on wildlife or wild habitats – and we do so not through coercion, but by fostering ecologically appropriate livelihoods and encouraging people’s participation in conservation.
This poster was designed and printed locally. We acknowledge that the responsibility for its content lies with us, not our international partner organisation IFAW or the local forest department, both of which played no role in its production.
The poster is in contravention of our fundamental attitudes towards wildlife conservation. We offer a wholehearted apology for its production and undertake to sensitise all members of our local staff as well as the individuals who were contracted to develop this collateral.