Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Monday, 25 January 2010

Tiger conservation and empathy

A Royal Bengal tiger has been beaten to death by villagers at Chandipur village in Shyamnagar upazila this evening in the presence of law enforcers as it eat up five goats. This how the Dhaka newspaper the Daily Independent opened an article about a clash between conservation and local villagers. What I get from the conservationists involved is that there are different perceptions about the facts, due to the emotions involved. And I should not belief the press too easily. It reminds me of cases in Eastern Europe where villagers killed wolves that had attacked their sheep and goats. There too was a huge difference in perceptions. To the extent that in some cases guns were fired at protected area staffs. Our mediation was successful as we focused first on the conservationists to generate more empathy with the villagers. The value of 5 or 10 sheep is not just the money to replace them. What about the shock among the whole herd that impacts the behavior of the sheep for days or weeks, the milk production and the time the farmer has to spend on damage control, repairs and getting compensation from the authorities. The latter was indeed such a bureaucratic procedure that even when we convinced the protected area staff to help farmers filling in the forms, nobody in the office was able to do so easily. Change to resolve conflicts with large mamals starts - I learned - with generating our own empathy as conservationists with the villagers. I am curious how that is in this tiger case.