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The Kadu Kuruba are the original inhabitants of the forests of Nagarahole and Kakanakote in the Western Ghats of Southern India. The name comes from the Kannada kadu (forest), and Kuruba Gowda, a caste which is a sub-set of the Dhangar caste.
After the fall of the Pallava empire many Kuruba settled down in south India as small landowners and farmers, while some took to hiding in the forests of south India and adopted a forest lifestyle. They developed their own culture and traditions different from other Kuruba due to their prolonged isolation.
Forcible eviction of the Kuruba Gowda[where?] started in the early 1970s. They were driven out of their ancestral lands deep inside the forest, and forced to live on the roadside or plantations on the periphery. These indigenous people lack land rights and are remain marginalised even to this day.
Originally, the Kadu Kuruba economy was based on collecting food from the jungle and hunting small game. Today, however, most of the Kuruba Gowda are small-scale farmers. Those who live in the uplands occupy higher and cooler slopes, and some still practice small-scale "slash and burn" cultivation, even though it is prohibited. However, with the increasing population and deforestation, these Kuruba Gowda have been forced to the lower elevations of the plateau. There, they earn a living mainly by working on tea or coffee plantations. The Urali Kuruba (a dialect branch) traditionally worked as blacksmiths, potters, carpenters, and basket makers. Presently, they have given up all these trades, except for basketry. They now supplement their income by working as agricultural laborers in the estates nearby
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