Wildlife Trust of India

Conserve nature, especially endangered species and threatened habitats, in partnership with communities and governments.
Jan 3, 2017

Similipal National Park

Roaming in the field
Roaming in the field

Elephants have vast home ranges and tend to migrate between areas seasonally. In recent decades, a growing human population and its myriad developmental needs has led to the degradation and fragmentation of forest habitats, bringing humans and elephants into increased contact and conflict.

Dhenkanal district of Odisha, which accounts for the 2nd highest elephant population in Odisha after Similipal National Park is interspersed with villages and crop fields is reeling under frequent negative encounters with humans and damage to crops and habitations.  Since 2010, 402 elephants and 354 persons have reportedly been killed due to Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) in this region.

Recently, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) was made aware of several instances where elephants migrating from Sunajhari and Kantajhari Reserve Forests were being trapped in the middle of the fast flowing Brahmani River by irate villagers on both sides. This was done in retaliation for crop losses and damage caused to their houses by elephants. WTI with support from Charities Aid Foundation - India (CAF India) is trying to ensure the passage for elephants by addressing the concerns of locals and involving them in the process of finding solutions. Response teams have been formed among the targeted villages. The teams have been equipped, trained to safely drive and deter wild elephants from conflict sites. They were also charged with sensitising fellow villagers about elephants and acting as forest department informers about the location of elephant herds.

Sagging electric lines had caused number of deaths of the gentle giants which roamed freely in the forests and also in private lands. Similar issue was informed by one of our response team in targeted village to DFO. After looking into the perspective, two new poles have been installed as correction measures. The spikes have been fitted at height which is higher than elephant’s height. Another response team on NH-55 is providing passage to elephants and also advising the people to keep their smaller vehicles behind the heavy vehicles for safety reason. The team provided the protection to newly born calf of an elephant for about three days until the both of them found a safer place to survive. Forest officials acknowledged and praised the members of the response team for this conservation effort.

Through continuous monitoring, the response teams will try to control issues of conflict in the area and ensure that villagers do not block elephants’ migratory passage. Addressing conflicts with elephants will further help marginalised people while avoiding the greater risks towards these large herbivores, thus saving the lives of both animals and humans. 

Preparing of response teams
Preparing of response teams
Jan 3, 2017

MVS at Similipal Tiger Reserve

Snake rescue
Snake rescue

Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR), located in the northern part of Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, is home to the highest number of tigers in the state apart from over 54 other species of mammals, 304 species of birds, 60 species of reptiles, 21 species of frogs, 38 species of fish, etc. The 1WTI’s Mobile Veterinary Service (MVS) unit is manned by a trained veterinarian and an animal keeper,. The MVS helps in swiftly responding to wildlife emergencies due to natural and man-made calamities.  It helps in rehabilitation of wild animals, including orphans, displaced due to various reasons and also assists the Forest Department in conflict animal management. MVS also provide its support during disease investigations during sporadic deaths and epidemics.

For the first time, the state of Odisha has a dedicated mobile unit. The main objective of the MVS unit is to return every displaced animal to the wild while following the IUCN guidelines on translocation and placement of confiscated animals.

The MVS unit in Similipal had attended to a total of 114 cases of wildlife displacements belonging to several species of mammal (Asian elephant, grey mongoose, hanuman langur, Indian giant flying squirrel)   birds (crested serpent eagle, coppersmith barbet) and reptiles (Russell’s viper, spectacled cobra, common sand boa, Indian rock python, checkered keelback) in this year. Out of these 93 cases, 70 cases (75.26%) were released back to the wild thus meeting the main impact of the project.

Similarly, MVS unit stationed at the Bandipur Tiger Reserve (BTR) campus is helping in mitigating wildlife conflicts and rescues & rehabilitation of wild animals in the landscape. During the month of November, one baby calf of elephant was found abandoned near K.Gudi Range in B.R.Tiger Reserve. The MVS was called in to assist with the case as the calf was found in a debilitated and emaciated state. The calf was treated for several small wounds and a generalized systemic infection. After proper recovery of the calf and recommendation by the MVS veterinarian, it was shifted to Mysore Zoo.  A soft shelled turtle found in car showroom on the Mysore-Gudalur Highway near Bandipur was also brought to Mysore and handed over to the Forest officials. There were several injuries on the shell of the turtle. The MVS Veterinarian cleaned the turtle and treated the wounds following which the Forest Department officials released into a lake in Mysore.

Snake under observation
Snake under observation
Hand care by WTI
Hand care by WTI
Jan 3, 2017

Conflict mitigation Teams in U.P

Quad-copter for surveillance
Quad-copter for surveillance

Human and wildlife are getting pushed into closer, more dangerous proximity as wild spaces shrink and fragment. This often results in wildlife dispersing out of their niche and right into a deadly collision course with humans.  Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) is a conservation issue that needs immediate addressal.  

In India, the two big cats i.e. the tiger (Panthera tigris) and leopard (Panthera pardus) are reported to be in high conflict with humans. Among the Indian state, Uttar Pradesh witnesses numerous cases of human mortality and injuries inflicted by these big cats. As per a study, between 2003 and 2010, around 42 people died and 39 injured at the hands of various individual tigers and leopards. An additional 474 cases recorded for the same period, have resulted in livestock deaths. Increase in the human population and their enhanced penetration into forests is largely responsible for the rise in this conflict.

WTI in association with Uttar Pradesh Forest Department (UPFD) has formulated conflict mitigation teams in proximity to the PA’s (Tiger reserves, National Parks) and other forested areas. These teams are called upon when big carnivores venture into human settlements and causes conflict. Though effective on many fronts, an urgent need was felt to equip this carnivore conflict mitigation team with new methods of addressing conflict.

WTI equipped the Dudhwa TR forest team with a quadcopter (a type of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle/UAV) which will be an effective tool to help the conflict management team in their work of action. By getting nearer to a ‘conflict’ animal than people often can, the drone with its bird eye view will easily cover a large distance of the conflict area, remotely identify the location of the animal and help the team to strategize procedures for tranquilizing and rescue, without any risk of casualty to the team as well as the individual animal.

The quadcopter has been handed over to Mr. Mahaveer Kaujalgi, Deputy Director of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. Basic guidelines were provided on how to use quadcopter in field by Mr. Mayukh Chatterjee, WTI.  It was also mentioned by Mr. Chatterjee, how a quadcopter can be used for crowd management during conflict and for patrolling the area. This will help in surveillance of human wildlife conflicts and monitoring in Dudhwa National Park and adjoining areas, Uttar Pradesh. 

Providing training for Quad-copter
Providing training for Quad-copter
 
   

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