Note: This video is in Marathi language
Kalinje was like any other village in Maharashtra’s Konkan belt: a population of less than a thousand, with most of the young having migrated for work. What started as a move to raise awareness among predominantly elderly women of the village about marine ecology has now turned into a great employment opportunity, thanks to ecotourism (home-stays, walks, meals etc.) taking off.
Bored of her household chores and with an urge to learn something new, it was in March last year (2021) that Shruti Todankar, 33, from Kalinje, a village in Raigad district of Maharashtra, decided to join a “Mangrove” training program with 25-30 other villagers. Until then, Todankar had joined the program for two reasons — to enjoy the two hours of break from household work and find out if the training was really her cup of tea. But six months later, Todankar, is part of a four women team leading the “Kalinje Ecotourism group”, taking tourists to see the mangroves and explain to them their importance.
Todankar, who never studied English, boasts, “I know the botanical names of 11 types of mangroves in English, how to spot them, and explain their features and importance”. She and her team members still dedicate two hours daily to revise what they know and learn more about Mangroves in the area.
Kalinje Ecotourism is a part of a community-based conservation initiative taken up by the Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation of Maharashtra Forest Department for the upliftment of local communities and promotion of mangrove and marine biodiversity conservation. After training daily for six months at village mangrove sites — Harihareshwar and Shrivardhan beaches — on December 6, the team led 130 tourists from Mumbai on a Mangrove trail.
While around 30 villagers showed interest and took the initial training, 10 have become part of the tourism circuit. The first four women lead the mangrove trail, bird watching, traditional fishing. Two men received training from the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa for Mangrove kayaking and the remaining four take tourists on a boat safari.
The key players in the protection of mangroves and its habitat are local communities that have a symbiotic relationship with the ecosystem. Ecotourism can offer a viable combination of economical, ecological and cultural protection to these local communities. Mangrove Ecotourism is not only a means of livelihood for the local community but it also helps in creating education and awareness among the visitors about this lesser-known habitat.
Local communities from villages like Kalinje and Diveagar in Raigad, Anjarle and Songaon in Ratnagiri,Taramumbri, Mithmumbri and Nivti in Sindhudurg have been trained for undertaking various ecotourism activities through diverse training and capacity building workshops conducted by subject experts which includes identification of Mangroves and its ecology, bird Identification and bird watching techniques, introduction to coastal and marine biodiversity, the concept of ecotourism and ethics, training on value addition of the food products, stargazing, life-saving techniques etc.
These Mangrove ecotourism initiatives are a part of community-based conservation initiative taken for the upliftment of local communities and promote mangroves and marine biodiversity conservation, after the initial support, the project will be run entirely by local communities eventually.
Video Credit: MahaMTB
Note: Please note that above video is not any kind of advertisement or support to any individual or organization. Our only intention is to convey the environment message to viewers through the video.