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Giving Back to the World We Travel: Co-ops and Tiger Conservation in India

Posted on 7/20/2021 12:00:00 AM in The Buzz

In this video, get an inside look into Dastkar Women’s Cooperative, an initiative that has created skilled jobs for women in Ranthambore.

For decades, wild tiger populations were in a dangerous decline, but thanks to local conservation efforts, tiger populations are finally starting to see a comeback. New estimates from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) show a promising resurgence, with India nearly doubling its numbers of tigers. In 2010, there were only about 3,200 wild tigers worldwide—now, in India alone, there are an estimated 2,600 to 3,350 tigers. This comeback is a direct result of years of conservation efforts with more protected areas and support for the surrounding communities.

One of the largest protected areas for tigers is Ranthambore National park in northern India. Before this area was established as a reserve, neighboring villages relied on the forest for food and many community members earned a living from poaching tigers. While poaching is illegal, it is often a lucrative way for men to provide for their families in this rural area with limited economic opportunities.

Outside of Ranthambore National Park, two cooperatives—Dastkar Women’s Cooperative and Dhonk Women’s Cooperative—provide alternative employment to poaching and generate income for the community. The women sew traditional handcrafts with 100% of all their profits going back into supporting tiger conservation. The co-ops also help to educate on issues related to tiger conservation.

Since we began our partnership in 2011, the Foundation has given $28,063 to Dastkar Women's Cooperative, with the help of our generous travelers. We've given $14,683 to Dhonk since our partnership began in 2013.

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the women of the cooperatives sewed 1,000 face masks for members of their local community. Thanks to generous traveler donations, this project kept the women employed during this challenging time while also providing masks for those who could not afford to buy them. With the help of a local Trip Experience Leader, the face masks were distributed to members of the local village in Ranthambore and a Grand Circle Foundation-supported school for teachers and students.

Visit the women’s cooperatives and hear firsthand about the controversial topic of poaching in Ranthambore during our Heart of India adventure.

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