‘Like killing my children’: former loggers now defend Assam’s forests

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Illegal logging is robbing Indians of food, medicine and even saffron to dye monks’ robes. Now local people are fighting back

In the pitch dark, the volunteers walk for hours along roads surrounded by dense forest. They patrol in near silence, listening hard for the thump of a trunk hitting the ground, a cracked twig in the dirt. Hunting down timber smugglers is a dangerous undertaking.

In January, Shri Vipin Shyam, 34, came across a man chopping down a tree in the early morning. “He was about to take a swipe at me with his axe until other members caught up to him,” says Vipin, a carpenter and former logger himself who has now become one of the volunteers protecting Assam’s forests.

Vipin and 21 residents from around Chalapothar Shyamgaon, in Charaideo district, are members of a forest protection group created in 2018 to preserve the 680-hectare (1,680-acre) reserve and help the understaffed forestry department.

Continue reading…Global development | The Guardian

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