Mankidia Tribe

Mankidia is a nomadic tribal group who live in Odisha. They are categorised as a particularly vulnerable tribal group. The group is an offshoot of the Birhor tribe of the Chota Nagpur region. The name ‘Mankidia’ is from the Odia term ‘Mankada’- a reference to their specialization in catching monkeys. Collecting wild honey and siali fibre from the Similipal forest is their source of livelihood. The recent forest fires have threatened their livelihoods.

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The newly constituted Panda committee under the tribal affairs ministry is to look into the issue of forest rights of the Mankidia tribe in Simlipal Tiger Reserve.

About the Tribe

The Mankidia are a nomadic tribal group of people who live in Odisha. The term ‘Mankidia’ is derived from Odia word ‘Mankada’ meaning monkey. This is in reference to their ability in catching monkeys. They are considered to be a scheduled tribe by the Indian government. The 2011 census reported a population of 2,222 members in the tribe.

Simlipal Tiger Reserve

The Simlipal National Park and Tiger Reserve is located in Mayurbanj district of Odisha. It is the 7th largest national park in India and is named ‘Simlipal’ in reference to the abundance of red silk cotton trees in the region. The national park is a part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

The Issue

The Mankidia tribal people make a livelihood in the Simlipal Tiger Reserve region by collecting siali fibre. This region is, however, the core area of the tiger reserve. The tribe was given habitat rights at the level of District Level Committee in August 2016. But the forest department of the state has been unwilling to give the land away and hence the land titles haven’t been granted to the tribe.

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