The bridge’s funding and construction was managed in partnership with Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).
Jade Gindam, a key village on the Rewak-Emangre Elephant Corridor, situated in the Indian state of Meghalaya, was declared a Village Reserve Forest in 2013 because of its importance as a traditional migratory route for elephants in the Garo Hills.
The Village Reserve Forest designation reflects a commitment by the community to take responsibility for local conservation efforts. In return the conservation organisations that funded the corridor made a commitment to improve conditions in local villages such as Jade Gindam.
The bridge was built to allow villagers safe passage to adjoining areas during the hazardous monsoon season. The water-level rise in the monsoon season is dramatic, with the river rising by tens of metres overnight. For the past 15 years people either had to swim across the river or be isolated from the surrounding area for two to three months during the rainy season.
Construction began in 2014, and an official opening ceremony was held on 3 June, 2015. The bridge was inaugurated by Smt Hiramoni R Marak, the Nokma (Chief) of the village.
Speaking at the event, the Nokma recalled how in the past people were averse to WTI’s work and even protested against the wildlife conservation work in the region. Smt Marak said: “Under such hostile circumstances, WTI could have given up but they never did and finally good has overcome the bad and the result is this hanging bridge which we have always dreamt of. We will no longer be cut off from the rest of the area during rains and would not lose our belongings while crossing the river. It was usual for people to lose their weekly ration and shoes while trying to cross the river.”
Another Jade Gindam resident, Bosnath N Marak said: “This is not a bridge but a lifeline for the people of this village which gets cut off from the main town for almost two to three months during monsoons. We are grateful to WTI-WLT for this support.”
With a permanent bridge in place providing a route to surrounding villages, local people have better access to healthcare and supplies. School attendance rates have increased because pupils are able to go to school throughout the year, with improved job prospects as a result.
You can support WLT’s conservation work in India by donating to the Indian Elephant Corridors Appeal.