At Wildlife SOS, we recognize that it is of the utmost importance to assist the Kalandar community in identifying an alternative means of livelihood to ‘dancing’ bears. The same goes for an community which is deriving its subsistence from any abusive practice. Alternative employment reduces dependency on working animals and wildlife. We try to impart the value in protecting the natural environment.
We conducted a study to assess the needs of the Kalandar tribe and to suvey their preferences for alternative employment.
To date, over six hundred Kalandar men have opted to voluntarily surrender their bears and claim the Wildlife SOS rehab package. Kalandar families receive rehabilitation packages based on submitted applications based on each individual’s entrepreneurship skills and personal vision. Our assistance may take the form of purchase of a handcart, a small “khoka” or wooden stall / shop; or provision of a bicycle from which to sell goods in the local rural areas. We can help with the purchase of a cycle rickshaw, an auto rickshaw or with providing seed funds for initial stocks. Again we help with consulting advice to nurture the proposed venture. By assessing the individual’s capacity to deal with basic market forces, we can make provisions to forward further funds where necessary, for expansion and stabilization of their businesses. However, Wildlife SOS did not want the training and seed funds to become an incentive to further poach the bears, thus, the entire community was included in the efforts and everyone could apply for seed funds or educate their children.
Providing training in carpet weaving, powdering and packaging of spices, training on welding machines, training on cup-making machines in tool rooms and as assistants in motor mechanic shops are some examples of vocations where can help facilitate a good start. Helping a man learn to drive in order to become employable (drivers with proper license documents); small scale poultry farming; rearing of goats; metal work, training in gem-cutting and polishing of low value semi precious stones for costume jewelry are further examples of trade possibilities. Any work which requires apprenticing or training is funded on an individual basis after careful assessment and analysis by our team. Our substantial efforts have brought a significant part of the community into the mainstream. We are encouraging as people tentatively take the first brave steps into an alternate means of earning and pulling themselves out of the regressive cycle of poverty and inextricably, the exploitation of wildlife.