The Gir Forest is home to several tribal communities who have lived there for generations. The main tribes found in the Gir area are the Maldharis, who are a pastoral community who raise cattle and are dependent on the forest for their livelihood, and the Siddis, who are an ethnic group of African descent who have lived in the region for centuries.
Maldharis are one of the oldest inhabitants of Gir. They are also known as the "Gir cow breeders" or "dhangar" people. They are primarily involved in cattle breeding and are dependent on the forest for their livelihood. The Maldharis have a deep understanding of the forest ecosystem and play an important role in its conservation.
Siddis are an ethnic group of African descent who have lived in the region for centuries. They arrived in India as slaves and soldiers in the past but now many of them live in isolated villages in the Gir Forest area. They have a distinct culture and a rich oral tradition that includes music, dance, and storytelling. They are also known for their expertise in hunting and honey collection in the forest.
In recent years, the government of Gujarat has implemented several development programs to improve the living conditions of the tribes in the Gir area, while also promoting ecotourism as a means of livelihood. These efforts have helped to improve the lives of the tribal communities while also protecting the unique ecosystem of the Gir Forest.
It's worth noting that tourism to the Gir Forest is heavily regulated and only a limited number of visitors are allowed to enter the forest each day, this is to reduce human impact on the wildlife and their habitat, and the tribes too.
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