How lockdown has hit tribal communities and forest dwellers

Lockdown restrictions have affected tribal communities and forest dwellers, whose livelihood depend on collecting and selling forest produce | All photos by special arrangement

On normal days, Sanniyasi, a Paliyar tribe member in Vadakadu, a tribal village in Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu, would have gone into the forest in search of honey. Along with 5-6 friends, he would carry a rope and a sickle using which he would climb trees and tap honey from beehives.

The Tamil months of Chithirai (April-May) and Vaikaasi (May-June) are the best times to collect honey, he says. ”Last year, I was in the forest around this time. Unfortunately, this year, I am just sitting at home."

It is not only Sanniyasi, but 30 other men in his village are now feeling the heat of COVID-19 lockdown.

“All of the men in our village are dependent on honey gathering. In off season, we do menial jobs like agricultural or construction work. Women too work as daily wage labourers for samsaris (the landlords)," he says.

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