Mysuru: Two tribals from Theppakadu in Mudumalai National Park Khetan and Maran, both in their early twenties were in Mysuru exhibiting and marketing their furniture products in a mela held at a posh hotel.
Till recently, the two tribal men were working as laborers but today they are self-employed earning good income. They attribute their success to Karnataka Soligas, who taught them how to convert a curse into a blessing!
Lantana, an alien invasive weed threatening large tracts of forests in Mudumalai National Park, has become a source of income for these tribes.
Soligas in Male Mahadeshwara Hills, who have unique skills in making furniture, toys and other products using Lantana, shared their knowledge and trained tribes in Gudalur forests of Niligiri district in Tamil Nadu. They stayed in the TN tribal hamlets for one-month.
No cost technology, simple skills and abundantly available resources are empowering the lives of several tribal families. With cane and bamboo being expensive, Lantana furniture has emerged as an ideal alternative.
Over 50 different products are made out of this weed and Lantana furniture is proving to be equally strong and more importantly is free from termites.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Khetan and Maran said there are 12 tribals in their village, who have mastered this craft and are working full time on this.
More are keen to learn. “We get regular bulk orders from resorts. The forest department encourages us to cut Lantana stems since it is a threat to bio-diversity and doesn’t allow anything to grow”.
Mr. Girish, wildlife conversationalist says Lantana has affected about 20,000 hectares in Mudumalai and the situation is worse in Bandipur....