In 2009, the Kadar, Muthuvar, and Malayar inhabting these mountain slopes claimed their ancestral rights on the forests. This was an important milestone in forest conservation, and is called Community Forest Rights (CFR). These indigenous communities are guardians of the trees, the river and the wildlife. Decisions concerning natural resource use are taken by the Oorukoottam, the head of which is the Ooru Moopan or Moopathi. Kadards are a primitive tribe, belonging to one of the 36 tribes in Kerala. Their ancestral domain is spread over two Forest Divisions across Trissur district.
There is much to learn from the native people. Indigenous houses were traditionally built of mud and bamboo, a great example for modern architects who work on innovative alternate technology for construction. If you get a change to interact with them, their authenticity and integrity would strike you. They have a sense of personal space, integrity, grace and dignity, and can accept complete strangers as guests. There is generosity in sharing what is available, and a gentle celebration of everyday life.
It is impossible to see the rich biodiversity in the forests and the beautiful Chalakudy River in isolation of the native people who have dwelled here for centuries. In that sense, we are visitors in this forest which is their home.
The Kadars consider plants and animals as ancestors and family. When our speeding car causes a road kill, the native people lose a strand of wildlife. All along the drive up to the waterfalls, our mindless littering is like throwing around garbage in their sacred landscape, the commonly shared property of our ‘host’.
Tourists pour in to Vazhachal in huge numbers. Your footprint has an impact on the wildlife, aesthetic landscape, and the cultural fabric of the native community.
Perhaps you can make a difference by being a more sensitive, responsible visitor.