Bolangir, being part of the infamous troika of Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput districts, has always been symbolic of abject poverty and marginalization prevalent in this region. Such connotations seem to have reflected badly on communities with regard to their contribution to the social development, but seldom has there been an attempt to hold forth examples that symbolizes the potential that these communities have.

 Rugudipali is an example of such an initiative where the local community has been involved in protection of birds for the last 20 years. Rugudipali comes under Makundpur GP of Deogaon block of Bolangir district and is situated just 25 km from the district headquarters.  

Village Profile:

S.No.

Village Name

Total Rural Families

Rural Families with Social Group

ST

SC

OBC

Others

1

RUGUDIPALI

200

54

35

106

5

 

Conservation Model:

 The villagers have been actively involved in the protection of   hundreds of Asian Open Bill Storks, locally known as Gendalia who have been a part of the village life since the last two decades. Villagers share that the protection initiatives started twenty years back when these avian species were found to be visiting the area for the first time. In order to protect the winged visitors a Bird Protection committee was formed in the village and the villagers framed rules and regulation to ensure better protection of these birds. The committee has been very active in ensuring compliance to the protection rules framed and has also taken the offenders to task whenever there has been any violation of the protection measures. In order to involve participation of other villages the committee has also reached out to them with their conservation message. Committee members share that years of effort have shown in an increase in the number of the birds in the season.

 It is interesting to find that the birdsí visit coincide with the onset of rain. These birds start coming to the area around mid of June (Sital Sasti) and stay up to November. Villagers share that primarily the security provided by the villagers have been responsible for inviting these birds in large numbers as they get safe breeding ground in the trees present around the village.

 Matu Bhua, president of the protection committee, says that the protection efforts put in by the villagers since years has been rooted in the conservation ethos of the community which in turn draws its inspiration from the culture of conservation ingrained in the ancient scriptures. Central to the conservation effort is a belief shared by the entire community that being part of the nature or mother earth, man is beholden to the responsibility of extending care and security to each of the component of nature including the wildlife and other forms of biodiversity.  The sense of security of these birds could be gauged from the fact that even if there is a forest cover around the village these birds prefer to stay and breed only in the trees close to the village. Shiba Bhua, another committee member shared an interesting fact about the protection initiative and the outcome which is that long years of protection effort has also strengthened the conservation of forest and other biodiversity in the area which according to them is contributing to their requirements of forest resources.

 It has never been a smooth sailing for the conservation initiatives taken up by the community; they have faced umpteen problems and hurdles in the way. In the beginning it was quite difficult to rope in the support of the surrounding villages for the protection. It was a tough task containing the poachers from outside who were posing a threat to the birds. Despite problems like this the community has never flinched from the conservation initiative and in the due course of time has been able to convince other villages about the significance of conservation, thereby encouraging their participation.

 People from Rugudipali are waiting for opportunities when their model of conservation can reach the outer world and influence and educate the conservation dialogue in the country.

 Community Conservation Initiatives and Vasundhara:

 Vasundhara, as a leading conservation organization in the state has always tried to promote such community conservation initiatives in the state where a number of communities in different parts of Orissa have developed and evolved their own model of conservation of biodiversity. Community conservation initiatives documented so far include Peacock conservation in Pakidi (Ganjam), Conservation of migratory birds in Mangalajodi (Chilka), Olive Ridley Turtle Protection in Rushikulya, Gahirmatha and Bhitarkanika, Conservation of Blackbuck in Bhetnoi-Balipadar (Ganjam), Conservation of Fish in Huma (Sambalpur), Deer conservation in Kodbahal (Sundergarh), Conservation of Forest by communities in Nayagarh, and Conservation of Sacred grooves in many parts of Orissa. These community based conservation models have been very effective in preserving our natural heritage.