The Bishnoi Tiger Force is an environmental activist group from Rajasthan, known for their efforts in safeguarding the plants and animals in India. They belong to the Bishnoi community, which has a rich tradition of conservation.
In 1998, the Bishnoi Tiger Force was formed after Indian actor Salman Khan was involved in the shooting of two blackbuck antelope in a village in Jodhpur. This gave them ample publicity.
In 2019, the government of Rajasthan started giving land contracts to private companies to develop renewable energy projects. However, it became evident that khejri tree forests were being cleared to accommodate these projects.
After three years, a number of Bishnoi conservation organizations protested and were promised by the local government that the trees on the leased land would be replanted instead of being chopped down.
Last year, they took action once more after an infrastructure project in a neighboring village removed numerous khejri trees, disposed of them in a drain, and concealed the act with the assistance of excavators.
The Bishnoi people consider the khejri tree holy because it can thrive in the harsh desert climate of Rajasthan. The tree is crucial for the desert ecosystem. The Bishnois, who are mostly farmers, depend on the tree for food. Additionally, the trees offer water, food, and shelter for animals.
The hardy tree is vital for agriculture in Rajasthan. It can be found in fields throughout the state, providing partial shade for crops and improving the nitrogen content of the soil.
The Bishnoi people are dedicated to safeguarding wildlife, and various animals like chinkara gazelles, peacocks, and nilgai antelopes which can be found wandering freely in Bishnoi villages.
Reference- DW Article, National Geographic, BBC World, Down To Earth