India’s ancient tribes battle to save their forest home from mining

India’s ancient tribes battle to save their forest home from mining

A rash of newly approved mines could destroy swathes of the Hasdeo Arand forest – and with it the biodiversity local villagers depend on for survival

Words and photographs by Brian Cassey

Laksmi Shankar Porte emerged from the forest. In his hands were an axe, a small scythe and a large crop of grass. Like many of the Gond people living in India’s Hasdeo Arand forest, he will use the grass to make ropes, brooms and mats.

The Hasdeo Arand is one of the largest contiguous stretches of dense forest in central India, covering about 170,000 hectares (420,080 acres) of the state of Chhattisgarh. It is rich in biodiversity, contains many threatened species and is home to elephants, leopards and sloth bears.

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