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Current Affairs

Honey collectors of Sunderbans

Date: 23 March 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

In an attempt to ensure that the honey collected from the Sunderbans does not involve life risk, Directorate of Forest 24 Parganas (South), along with WWF India, has come up with a novel mechanism of community apiculture for collecting the forest produce.

 

Background

Maulis (honey collectors), as they are called in Bengali, often risk their lives in the peak season to collect honey. Going by the official estimates, at least five to six of these honey collectors (official figures) are killed by tigers every year.

 

Details

  • People from the villages of Sunderbans have been venturing into the dense mangrove forest inhabited by the Royal Bengal Tiger to collect the sweetest produce of the forest, honey.

  • The villagers of the fringe areas of Sunderbans have set up three cooperatives societies, the members of which have been provided with training and equipment, such as honey collection boxes.

  • These boxes are placed inside forest camps and adjoining nylon netted forest areas of the Sunderbans.

  • Though located deep inside the mangrove forest, the camps and the adjoning areas have little risk of tiger attacks and the maulis can go about their activity without any fear.

  • The cooperative societies have been providing financial support in the form of loans. The initiative is not only aimed at protecting the lives of honey collectors but also aimed at ensuring the ecological balance of the Sunderbans.

  • The Forest Department has created a separate brand for selling this honey named Bonphool (Flower of the Forest). The honey extracted from mangrove forest will be called Bonphool Wild Honey, harvested from traditional honey collectors from mangrove forest of Sunderbans.

  • Human tiger conflict is a major issue in the Sunderbans. Between 1985 to 2009, tigers attacked 789 persons, of which 666 succumbed to their injuries. Nearly 14% of the victims were honey collectors.

  • While the number of human-tiger conflict have come down over the last few years because of better forest management and nylon fencing, instances of such tiger attacks are still reported.