“Are the forests safer with forest department or Toda people?” “Forest department knows everything, but they are taking up development activities wherever they go. Forest department people often ask the Todas what they want, that they’ll do it. They might take up one to two activities that the Toda people ask for, the rest of the time they are working on development activities. Even if they give work, it will be for maximum for one two days work, that too of planting saplings. Apart from that, they don’t give any work. There are many tribals in the forest, but there is nobody knows the forests as Toda people do, I think. Now, many tribals go towards the city for work. Once they go there, they settle there, or some people come back. But amongst Todas, they will stay in their villages in the forest and go to work every day from their home. Even amongst families and married men, in case they have to go outside for a government job or other jobs, they would like to come back to the forest someday. I think, there is nobody who is as knowledgeable about the forest, as much as Toda people are.” Petegerai, Toda elder, Nilgiris.

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