We respect, encourage and celebrate wildlife photography. However, like any aspect with attached ethical obligations, wildlife photography also comes with its own set of norms and rules that one MUST obey to help save the very animals which are being ‘shot’.
Resisting geo-tagging photographs is one such norm that should be followed with much greater zeal than it is now. When you geo-tag a photograph of wildlife, especially of tigers, leopards, bears etc., you make the life of the poacher (even an aspiring hunter) easier. By giving the locations, you are essentially helping reduce the gap between the hunter and the hunted by making it easier for poachers to track their targets and finish them off.
One needs to remember not all who see wildlife are conservationists or people simply happy to see these gorgeous creatures out there living a natural life. What they see is money... lots of it. Too many depraved minds across the world are willing to spend exorbitant sums of cash to procure a part of an animal or even the animal alive. Reasons could be many-for medicinal use, as items of decoration, or for sheer entertainment ‘value’ of having them as a pet
It is not just the large animals who are caught in the mesh of internet-savvy poachers. Did you know some of the most traded animals in the world are small animals like snakes, butterflies and beetles; with their trade (live or body parts) running into millions of dollars every year across the globe?
Take photographs without disturbing wildlife. Celebrate it. Do go ahead and post these photos on your social networking sites and encourage people to help save them.
But please never put specific locations on those posts. With so many species vulnerable and on the brink of extinction, it is our duty to do whatever we can to make sure we safeguard them from those determined to profit from them, come what may.
Next time, you see a photo of wildlife with the geo-coordinates/exact location, do your civic duty and ask them to remove the details, if not the photo itself!
Share this with as many people as you can. Spread awareness and help save what remains of our wildlife.
July 31st was World Ranger Day.
Usually when we talk about wildlife and forests, we agree about the need to protect it, to preserve it, to prevent the callous exploitation of nature’s treasures by those determined to profit from them.
What we do not talk about very often, however, are the men and women who are out there doing just that – the frontline forest guards of the Forest Departments.
These are the people who have dedicated their lives to ensure that another rhino does not fall to a poacher’s bullet, that another elephant is not poisoned, that another tiger does not find its leg caught in an iron jaw trap, or that another bough of sandalwood is not illegally traded.
They are the ones braving the cold biting winds of Kashmir, the raging floods of Assam, the scorching desert sun in Rajasthan, the searing heat of rocky Central India, and the pouring rains of the Western Ghats; often without basics such as jackets and caps! The guards consider neither their own comfort nor their convenience when it comes to doing their duty. They have only one thought on their minds – making sure that the forests and the plants and animals that find home within it are protected from harm.
On World Ranger Day, we express our deepest gratitude to these brave Guardians of the Wild. Without them, the forests and its denizens would have become a memory a long time ago.
‘Guardians of the Wild’ is one of the earliest initiatives of WTI. Over the last 15 years WTI has been striving to provide frontline forest guards with tools to support their mission. The support provided is in the form of training in basic wildlife law and crime scene investigation, equipping with patrolling and communication gear, and boosting their morale by privately insuring them against injury or death on duty.
We thank you for supporting us in our efforts to protect these very important partners in wildlife conservation and to acknowledge the heroism they show every single day while on duty.
In August 2014, it has been nearly four months since our elephant calves were shifted into Manas National Park, Assam. There are five of them, Rani, Tora, Difloo, Jakhala, and Philip (who joined them a week or so later). The calves have all been radio collared and are being remotely monitored by the Wild Rescue team. The team reports that the calves have been fending for themselves as finding a family in the wild is proving to be a tough task.
Anjan Sangma, our field biologist, sent in the following account from Manas National Park on a recent incident where Philip and Tora had to be rescued from flood waters.
August 8, 2014: It has been pouring for two weeks now and tracking the calves is getting increasingly difficult. Of the five calves, Jakhala, Rani and Diphloo have been found to be moving about singly with signals coming in from different parts of Manas. But Tora and Philip have been moving about together and on the 19th of last month, they were sighted on an island in the Beki River by forest guards. The guards told us that they were on that island for three days.
By 23rd July it became evident that Philip and Tora were not there by choice but had been trapped by the rising waters. As the keepers kept watch, Philip took the plunge, literally! He clambered across the waters into the Sundari camp, south of the Beki river, and saved himself.
But Tora did not follow him. The river kept rising and the island was gradually going underwater.
We had to rescue Tora. The next day, we hired a boat and crossed over to island to check if she was physically fit to try and navigate the swollen river. To our relief, it turned out that she was physically absolutely fine, but just not brave enough to risk the river.
We tried for the next two days to get across the river but the currents were too dangerous. On the 26th, a rescue team for formed – Assam Forest Department, IFAW-WTI Wild Rescue team, and volunteers from local villages. The waters all around the island were surveyed and the area with slowest current was selected.
We guided Tora to the area and tied a rope around her body. The rescue team then coaxed her into the water and using rope to support and guide her, slowly got her to cross the river.
We kept Philip and Tora with us that night to watch over them. The next morning, we changed their radio-collars to facilitate longer monitoring and then sent them off into the wild again.
There was a wild herd nearby and this raised our hopes. Could this be the historic moment when Philip and Tora find a new family? But no... not this time. An elephant from the wild herd drove them away. Philip and Tora were not deterred. They followed the herd back into the forest; leaving us with fingers crossed hoping for the best.