Case Study: MUNJALI TOKBIPI
A member of the Karbi Community, Munjali has been working relentlessly to protect wildlife and green cover in the Karbi-Anglong landscape along with local communities, for which she was awarded the Young Naturalist Award by Balipara Foundation in the year 2013when she was 27 years old. Munjali’s father works as a government employee and her mother is a housewife, and they both supported her on her choice to take an upbeat career path and work towards wildlife conservation. Munjali completed her graduation on Geography from Diphu Government College and completed her post-graduation diploma on Natural Resource Management from Nowgong Girl’s College under Guwahati University in the year 2011. After which she went on to spent considerable time with local communities in distant villages to document and explore its past and present wildlife, and also to motivate local resident communities towards a sustainable lifestyle. Munjali joined northeast India-based wildlife NGO – Aaranyak and gotinvolved in the rst ever ecological research project in the Karbi-Anglong district, which was also a part of the Tiger Research and Conservation Initiative. She is the rst woman from the Karbi Community to work on Wildlife Research and Conservation. The Karbi Anglong landscape is home toseveral tribal communities who lead a traditional lifestyle that is intricately linked to the forests. The region has also a long history of civil unrest and armed conict which has restricted development and modernization among communities. The Karbi-Anglong landscapestands at about 7000 sq.km which meets Kaziranga National Park in the North. The landscape has been understudied in the past but post the project structured by Aaranayak, interesting ndings and results have been revealed. The study was aimed at assessingpatterns of large mammal distribution in the Karbi-Anglong landscape, and also to look into the interactions between wildlife and local communities. The study also aimed at assessing the overall conservation potential of the landscape. Munjali was a part of data generation of spatial database of settlements and roads. And she also conducted training programs for the local youth to carry out wildlife surveys in the landscape. A grid-based methodology was used by the eld team to survey the local communities to inquire aboutanimal signs/surveys and also about their occupancy in the landscape. The eld team also carried out structured interviews with the key informants of the landscape – hunters, shifting agriculturists, etc. Munjali led and helped carry out the project in the Karbi-Anglong landscape, despite their teamfacing accessibility issues in a volatile environment that faced inter-tribal conict. The project was was funded by a U.S, based organization-Panthera. The total cost of the project was almost 5 Lakhs.
Munjali is the rst female wildlife researcher from the Karbi-Anglong landscape to take up wildlife conservation and management as a full-time career. In process, she has become an inspiration for the local youth, especially the women of tribal communities to follow the similar upbeat career paths that Munjali started. She also was a part of the training programs that helped mobilize more than 50 youth of Karbi-Anglong landscape in the training for wildlife data collection.
Munjali’s work did not result in the direct delivery of economic outputs but her involvement in the ecological research work in the Karbi-Anglong landscape has helped expose the youth of the region to adopt livelihood opportunities by supporting wildlife conservation
Results of the Karbi-Anglong occupancy study of large mammals, which Munjali was a part of, carried out more than12000 interviews with informants (hunters, shifting agriculturists, etc) in 285 grids in the study area. The study revealed that 70% of the total area of the district was permeable to tiger movement. The study also found that 90% of the area had elephant, wild pig and barking deer presence. The study revealed that tigers, sambar and gaur had restricted distribution in the landscape. The study also helped reveal that human-wildlife conict was one of the major issues existingin the landscape.