The Eye of the Tiger: SevaStray Joins Hands with Dhonk
It's the Eye of the Tiger: SevaStray Joins Hands with Dhonk
SEVA STRAY + DHONK
Introducing the Seva Stray partnership with Dhonk! We are excited to announce the new Seva Stray + Dhonk Collection, which empowers tribal women in India, prevents poaching, keeps centuries-old traditional handicrafts alive, and helps stray dogs!
In February 2020, Julie and I visited Ranthambore National Park in India’s state of Rajasthan, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive Bengal Tiger. Ranthambore is an eco-sensitive zone and is one of India’s finest National Parks - and one of the best places to spot a tiger due to their conservation efforts.
While visiting Ranthambore, we discovered Dhonk - a sustainable initiative established to provide handicraft training and an alternative livelihood to tribal communities formerly involved in poaching around Ranthambore National Park. We fell in love with their mission and hand-selected our Seva Stray +Dhonk product line on SevaStray.com.
Purchases of these products not only help stray dogs in India, but also empower these socially marginalized people, and help eliminate poaching in the Ranthambore area! WIN-WIN-WIN!
THE STORY BEHIND DHONK
Divya Srivastava, a corporate dietician went on a vacation to Ranthambore located near the Sawai Madhopur town in Rajasthan, India. There, in the vast jungles of central India, the young professional was introduced to the love of her life, Dharmendra Khandal, a Conservation Biologist working with NGO Tiger Watch. At the time, the NGO was working on a project to eliminate tiger poaching and secure their natural habitat as the once lush population of these big cats was decimated to a meager 13 because of the illegal killings.
When a passionate Divya joined Dr. Khandal in his fight, she not only fell in love with him but also let go of her urban dreams and stayed back for Ranthambore’s flora and fauna.
With the indigenous tribal Mogya population still largely dependent on the forest and animal poaching for a livelihood, it was becoming difficult to secure the conservation of the beautiful wild animals in Ranthambore. Connecting the root of illegal farming and poaching to the lack of opportunity and education for the locals, Tiger Watch had started a craft program to give them an alternative livelihood. The program was about to be halted because the people were making on a few items and there was no market for them. That is, until Divya stepped in.
Divya registered the project as a social enterprise, a ‘responsible business model’, so that it could benefit the community and help with conservation. She worked to provide training to the Mogya women in a variety of traditional Rajasthani handicrafts like block printing, tie dying and embroidery. She partnered with tourism companies to bring in tourists who were happy to buy these unique, handmade crafts at their charming facility on the outskirts of Ranthambore National Park.
SOLVING THE ISSUE OF POACHING
Named after one of the oldest trees (Anogeissus pendula) found in the Aravalli Range of Rajasthan, Dhonk is a holistic craft brand that was established as the economic alternative for ex-poachers families living in and around Sawai Madhopur to keep them from poaching and forest overgrazing.
With fair pay, flexible hours and an education program for the Mogya children, Dhonk slowly transformed a pool of rural Mogya women of all ages into artisans in the art of handicraft making. The financial and emotional transformation of these women also encouraged some of the men to also join the initiative.
Together, Dhonk artisans work on crafting handmade toys made out of waste fabrics, hand block printing and moonj basketry producing an array of products including apparel, bags, purses, home furnishing items with traditional Rajasthani motifs on them.
Each Dhonk artisan is an entrepreneur who is earning his/her own income. The major portion of the surplus income generated by selling the goods is given to Tiger Watch, with some kept aside to be given as interest-free loans for the Dhonk artisans and to support the education of their children.
The institute also provides seminars to tourists, localities, and works with government officials over issues related to tiger poaching prevention, forest preservation, and sustainability.
AN ALTERNATE LIVELIHOOD WITH DHONK
The idea behind Dhonk Crafts grants expression of self-reliance to the artisans as well as guarantees the freedom of the tigers of Ranthambore.
Seva Stray is proud to be a wildlife and local craft supporter. Together with Dhonk, we have lovingly created a range of pet and home products that will bring the exotic and wild side of India to you and your fur buddy.
In addition, Seva Stray also donates 20% of all purchases to some of the most amazing organizations in India that are working to help stray dogs in India.
THE SEVA STRAY + DHONK COLLECTION