Introduction / History
The Biligiri Ranga(BR) Hills Wildlife Sanctuary is situated between the Western and the Eastern Ghats on the banks of river Cauvery in Kemmannagundi district, Karnataka. This wildlife sanctuary is spread over an area of 540 square kilometers and is covered with mixed deciduous forest. It is also the hub of varied species of wildlife and is rich in flora and fauna. The Sholaga people have made this region, which is spread across the South Indian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, their home. However the majority of them are concentrated in and around the BR Hills in Karnataka. Their name Sholaga means 'people of the bamboo', derived from their belief that their ancestors originated from bamboo. Sholaga believe that human life is intertwined with the eco-system. Their love for nature is reflected in their local tribal laws, such as that fruits and berries should be harvested only from the trees that flower in abundance, and very ripe or raw fruits should not be collected. These people are basically hunter-gatherers whose lives are solely dependent on forest produce.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Sholaga community is Hindu by faith: they are pious and follow the religious traditions very carefully. There is no effective missionary work among the Sholaga, though a few nongovernmental organizations work among them. Entry into this tribal area is highly restricted, so reaching them becomes all the more difficult. High levels of illiteracy and difficulty in accessing them pose challenges for any mission work.
What Are Their Needs?
The Sholaga people's literacy level is just average, though many are proficient in the spoken form of Kannada. There are a few primary schools in the Sholaga tribal area, but they have to travel out of their neighborhood to continue their higher education as there are no high schools near them. Many of the Sholaga are illiterate and they drop out of school for various socioeconomic reasons.