Coexistence is a beautiful thing. Yes those are crocs (Crocodylus palustris) in the background. No, it is not considered a big deal here. Nobody freaks out. The coexistence of local communities and crocs here in Charotar is a fine example of sharing habitats and respecting each other. All credits go to the communities here AND the crocs. People often ask us how and when of this… well, honestly we don’t know. They have been coexisting since the very beginning. The basics of how to live with crocs was probably learnt and preserved as traditional knowledge several generations ago. This very important knowledge has since been passed on to the next generation and then to the next. As nice and simple as it may appear, there are some very complex management issues that we are dealing with. External influences are trying to meddle with the communities’ perception of crocs and related issues. It becomes very important for us to have constant presence here by means of several community oriented programs and citizen science initiatives. We choose science based interventions and that’s keeping us busy at the moment. We have a lot of exciting work coming up here in Charotar and beyond. It is a long term commitment to keep it a prime example of coexistence, there are no short cuts.
Charotar is special and unique with its coexistence, other places like Vadodara, Bharuch and Narmada report highest conflict incidents in India, and we are working on conflict mitigation there. We have carried out comprehensive surveys and are working with local communities on building a sustainable model that will promote safe living with crocs with a strong conservation message well integrated in it.