A month ago, the village of Ramdegi was home to 200 families. Now, antelope, bison, deer and boars roam the streets.
Recently, even a tiger has been seen prowling the abandoned farming village.
The people of Ramdegi moved in the name of conservation. Their home was located in the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, and last month residents accepted incentive packages from the Indian government to move outside reserve borders.
The move was part of the government’s ongoing efforts to reduce human conflicts with wildlife, especially endangered species like tigers.
Tiger numbers have decreased by about 95 percent over the past century, and only about 3,200 tigers remain in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
It didn’t take long for nature to reclaim Ramdegi. In the weeks since the villagers left, a variety of wildlife has moved in.
The Times of India reports, "Herds of bisons, chitals, sambars, nilgais and wild boars are now a common sight in the meadows. Wildlife is seen quenching thirst at the village lake. Even a tiger is said to be regularly stalking the village in pursuit of prey."
This isn’t the first time that an entire Indian village has made room for nature.
Last year, the 350 residents of Umri moved out of the Sariska Tiger Reserve and were compensated with land, cash and livestock worth up to $20,000.
"It is a long-drawn process because the villagers have to agree to move out," PS Somasekhar, Rajasthan, India’s chief conservator of forests, told the BBC. "We can't force them to leave. We can only persuade."
Other communities across India are expected to accept government incentive packages and move out of tiger reserves in coming years.
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