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Eviction from Kanha Tiger Reserve, MP, India


The Kanha Tiger Reserve and National Park, extending to a total area of 2051.79 sq km including a critical tiger habitat (core) area of 917.43, represents one of the largest national park in the state of Madhya Pradesh, central India. It was notified as a National Park in 1955, and later acquired the status of Tiger reserve in 1973-74. Almost 80 per cent of the total human population living within and around the park is considered to be tribal and the majority belongs to the semi-nomadic tribe of Baiga and Gond, who have lived in this area since centuries. 

At the time of being notified as a Tiger Reserve in the mid-seventies, a number of 24 villages (around 650 families) were displaced outside the boundaries of the TR. These villages were reportedly relocated voluntarily. However, it was later found out that there was a lot of discontent by the villagers who were indeed forcefully relocated outside their area [1]. 

After this first round of relocation, the new pressure started in 2010, just after the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) received the funding for relocation. About 450 families were evicted in June 2014. Also in this case, while the state government claims this move to be voluntary, many tribals have opposed it [2, 3]. Most people were unaware of their rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). According to a Reporter by French TV channel Canal Plus visiting the area in 2014, more than 22,000 people were evicted from Kanha with no support or backing [4]. As per a Right to information Report filed on 11/12/2017 a number of 34 villages have been relocated, corresponding to a number of 1870 families. 

According to a report of 2016 published in the Business Standard, tribals have not been allowed to enter the forest and were beaten if they were seen doing so [5]. By now, according to the MEE Report 2014, there are only 3 villages living inside the core area, Linga, Jholar and Sukudi, which continue to resist and they are planned to be relocated (MEE, 2014).  

The eviction drive has been condemned by many activists and environmentalists at the national and International level. Survival International, the international lead organization in the protection of indigenous rights have declared that ‘the so-called ‘conservationists continue to destroy the tribal people as it has for generations’[6]. Moreover, an article on REDD-Monitor website has unveiled the scam of WWF, which has provided infrastructural support, training and equipment for staff in Kanha Tiger Reserve [6]. A 2015 documentary produced by French TV channel Canal Plus includes an interview with Yash Shethia, Associate Director of WWF-India’s Species and Landscapes Programme about Kanha National Park. Shethia was asked whether he, as a representative of WWF, condemned the evictions. “I would not put it like that”, Shethia replied. “But we don’t encourage them.” WWF did not condemn the evictions [6].

Today the tribal evicted from the Kanha TR are seriously facing a troubled life and got impoverished. “I have been reduced to begging. I was evicted from the Kanha National Park and now I am trapped in a barren land; struggling under dire conditions,” laments a member of the tribe [9].

In March 2018, more than 300 indigenous Baiga people of Kanha National Park, united together with the evicted people from Achanakmar TR, came out to protest against the eviction move [8].

Another article in Microfinance Monitor also declared that Sukhdev, a Baiga man interviewed by Survival International declaring his position to not leave the forest, he was mysteriously killed in the forest [7]. 

According to a Kalpavriksh 2013 Report [10], the process of claiming forest rights have started before the new wave of relocation. The report mentions that 16 common forest resource rights have been claimed and recognized in the core of Kanha tiger reserve; and 131 claimed and recognized from the buffer. However there is no further information on it, and the process seems to be uncertain. 

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Eviction from Kanha Tiger Reserve, MP, India
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific commodities:Ecosystem Services
Tourism services

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Kanha Tiger Reserve and National Park, is one of the tiger reserves of India and the largest national park of Madhya Pradesh, in the heart of India. The present day Kanha area is divided into two sanctuaries, Hallon and Banjar, of 250 and 300 sq km respectively. Kanha National Park was created on 1 June 1955 and in 1973 was declared as Kanha Tiger Reserve. The Critical Tiger Habitat was declared on 24th December 2007 for an area of 914.73 sq km, without following the provisions as per FRA and WLPA amend., sec. 38V. As per MEE report, 2014 the Phen Wildlife Sanctuary, which was recently freed of human habitation after the lone village, Sajalgan in 2014 has also been observed as an important tiger habitat and the officials wish to include the sanctuary as part of the critical tiger habitat.

The entire Kanha TR is formed together with a surrounding buffer zone of 1134.36 sq km. This makes it the largest National Park in Central India. Kanha Tiger Reserve was ranked among the top 10 Famous Places for Tourists. The park has a significant population of the Royal Bengal tiger, Indian leopards, the sloth bear, barasingha and Indian wild dog.

Project area:113,436
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:22,000
Start of the conflict:2010
Relevant government actors:Madya Pradesh Forest Department
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)
International and Finance InstitutionsWorld Wildlife Fund (WWF) from Switzerland
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Survival International (

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Baiga and Gond tribes
Forms of mobilization:Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Other Environmental impacts
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The needs of the local people have not been taken into consideration and most of the villages have been evicted without fair and just compensation from their forest land. This without respecting the forest rights recognized under the Indian law.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Wildlife Protection Act (WLPA), Amendment 2006

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Displacement and Relocation of Protected Areas: A Synthesis and Analysis of Case Studies, 2009. Economic and Political Weekly. Author: Langerscoix and Kothari. pg. 40.

[10] Summary report of National Consultation on Forest Rights Act and Protected Areas, 11-12th November 2013, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi. Published by Kalpavriksh.

[4] REDD Monitor. WWF scandal (part 6): Evictions of indigenous peoples in India for tiger tourism. July 23, 2015

[7] Tribes Evicted from Kanha to Protect Tiger Reserve?

[8] Conservation Watch. Illegal evictions of Baiga indigenous people from India’s Kanha National Park. Author: Chris Lang. March 03, 2018.

[9] The Indian Express. A tribal tragedy: Baited by large compensation, Baigas of Kanha grapple with post-eviction dilemma. Author: Sajin Saju. May 30, 2017

[2] Down To Earth. Stop illegal eviction of tribes from Kanha Tiger Reserve, urge activists. Author: Sabreen Haziq. July 4, 2015.

[3] Live Mint. India urged stop evicting tribes from Kanha Tiger Reserve. Author: Nita Bhalla. Jan. 15, 2015.

[5] The Hindu. Mass evictions from tiger reserves: French TV. Author: K. Venkateshwarlu. July 23, 2015.

[6] Business Standard. With luxury encroaching in forest areas, tribals fear for their existence. June 18, 2016.

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Testimoniance of Jolhar villagers fighting against the relocation from Kanha Tiger Reserve. By Survival International

Survival Campaign against the Baiga relocation

'Daslakhiya'. A movie about the eviction of Baiga tribes from Kanha Tiger Reserve and the corruption carried on by the Wildlife Responsible Authorities and Government.

Meta information

Contributor:Eleonora Fanari, [email protected]
Last update24/05/2019



A jeep safari in the Kanha Tiger Reserve to spot the endangered tiger

Retrieved by:

A Baiga woman living within the Kanha Tiger Reserve

Retrieved by Survival Internation website:

A group of Baiga woman evicted from the Kanha Tiger Reserve in 2014

Retrieved by:

On one hand resettlement of tribal people was taken up by the Forest Department to conserve forests but on the other thousands of tourists are welcomed every year.

Retrieved by The Hindu