Congratulations to Sugato Dutt on his award!
His paper entitled “Masked by the tiger: an evaluative study of rural livelihoods and conservation values in Northeast India” was presented at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers held at San Diego, California from Sept. 30th to Oct 3rd 2009. This paper was one of the results of his field research project at the Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal State in India, while working on his dissertation, “Crafting the Conservation Landscape: Resource Use and Participatory Forest Management in the Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal.”
Sponsored by the EWC Research Program, Sugato’s paper won the Committee Award for the Best Regional paper. Sugato’s research examines the attitudes of the local community residing at the vicinity of one of India’s several Tiger Reserves. The reserves, regarded as a symbol of the Indian government’s commitment to protect the tiger, have come under some controversy recently as tiger populations have been reported to decline in India. Much is reported in the Indian and international media about the lack of support for the project at the grassroots level.
Sugato’s research finds that the local community is concerned about the future of the tiger and is willing to help reduce incidents of (timber and wildlife) poaching but cannot give up its economic dependence on minor forest produce including fodder and fuelwood.