Wildlife Trust of India

Conserve nature, especially endangered species and threatened habitats, in partnership with communities and governments.
Dec 29, 2015

Sensitising people to prevent kite string injuries

Pledges were signed during street plays
Pledges were signed during street plays

The festival of Makar Sankranti is one of the few Hindu festivals that falls on the same day every year according to the Gregorian calendar.It signifies the end of the winters and the heralding of spring.Widely celebrated around India, the rituals followed on this include exchanging of sweets made from sesame and jaggery and the flying of kites The gods who have slumbered for six months are have awakened and the kites are flown to the portals of heaven that are now open. 

This idyllic festival can have lethal connotations for birds, however as kite strings (also called manjha)  are often heavily coated with powdered glass to give the kite fliers an advantage in their fiercely fought battles. The strings can be so sharp that people flying kites often bandage their hands to prevent injuries. Another threat that has recently been added is the introduction of "Chinese manjha" which is made from nylon. The nylon strings are popular as they are fairly cheap and do not degrade. Hence they remain a threat to birds long after the festivities have ended.

The kite flying festivities are enjoyed with vigour in the city of Jaipur with numerous kites dotting the skies for days after.  Last year the Jaipur Administration banned the use of Chinese manjha and the flying of kites during the hours that birds are most active. i. e. between 6 to 8 am and 5 to 7pm.

 However, it is important that these bans are enforced and adhered to by the public. In order to do this, the project team has started a campaign to reach out to the people of Jaipur to senstize them towards the plight of birds. A special poster for the campaign, designed by the team, was issued by the District Collecter. This poster has already been put up in various schools, colleges and other institutions.

Awareness camps have been set up in two schools so far where the team spoke to the students. Students signed and recited the following pledge:

1). I will not fly kites from 6.00-8.00AM & 5.00-7.00PM .
2). I will not buy Chinese manjha.
3). I will dispose of leftover manjha in waste bins only. 

Students also pledged to remove manjha from at least five trees near their houses.

The campaign team has also set up two bird treatment camps for injured birds in prominent areas of the city.

Street plays were held at popular tourist spots like the Jantar Mantar, the City Palace and the Govind Dev Ji Temple. The plays were performed at times when the footfall in these areas is the highest thereby reaching out to a large number of people. Over 400 people signed the pledge during these plays. 

As the festival draws nearer, the campaign is intensifying its activties with peace rallies and candle light vigils. more sensitisation programs have also been initiated around the city.

Street plays were held at popular places
Street plays were held at popular places
The poster being issued by the district collector
The poster being issued by the district collector

Links:

Dec 22, 2015

Legal Assistance Training in Pench TR

WTI team interacting with Forest Department team
WTI team interacting with Forest Department team
Whilst the anti snare walks are an integral part of what we do to protect our tigers, it is just as important to us to ensure that the poachers are punished to the fullest extent of the law. We work with the Forest Department in various Tiger Reserves by providing legal assistance as well

A Central India legal assistance review meeting was held in Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, on October 16, 2015. The joint meeting of the Forest Department and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) was conducted with an aim to strengthen mechanism to ensure that no criminal is let off scot-free and evaluate the legal assistance provided to the forest department on a monthly basis. The meeting was held in the presence of the Field Director, Pench TR; WTI's Regional Head, a WTI Advocate, and external legal advisor  and the concerned ACF’s/Range Officers of the Pench TR.

WTI has been providing legal assistance to Pench Tiger Reserve by assisting the forest authorities in filing cases comprehensively and also advising them on pending cases from these areas. The aim of the meeting is to prevent crimes against wildlife as per the definitions and provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972; achieve high rate of wildlife crime conviction; and take cognizance of all wildlife cases filed with the help of IFAW-WTI’s legal assistance team in the trial courts.

It was decided that a uniform reporting format will be maintained for all the wildlife crime cases and a cumulative list of the wildlife crime cases in Pench Tiger Reserve be prepared. Accordingly, the cases are prioritized on the basis of the seriousness of crime, i.e. schedule, seizure and category. They should then be dealt accordingly. During the course of the meeting, the participants also discussed how to reduce the delay in getting the update from the newly formed courts to increase efficacy. It was agreed that the above mentioned decisions taken in the meeting will be implemented at the earliest. This will steer a way towards the desired goals of ensuring high percentage/level of conviction of the wildlife criminals. Further, a meeting will be held in another three months to follow up the implementation of the decision and review the legal assistance under the guidance of the Field Director.

Mr Subhoranjan Sen, Field Director, Pench Tiger Reserve, stated in the meeting that it is the primary duty of the forest staff to protect the wildlife and its habitat. To ensure the protection of the wildlife and its habitat, it is important to keep a check on the wildlife crimes happening in and around the Tiger Reserve, which is the primary duty and aim of the Forest Department. Further, he appreciated the legal assistance from WTI and asked the forest staff to take benefit from the same.

A detailed plan was formulated
A detailed plan was formulated
Dec 17, 2015

Rescuing Wildlife in Simlipal Tiger Reserve

Releasing the rescued Asian Palm Civet
Releasing the rescued Asian Palm Civet

Till date, the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has successfully saved about 4000 individual animal lives, vaccinated more than 12000 livestock around fringes of protected areas, and provided healthcare support to 1000 captive elephants through its six Mobile Veterinary Service (MVS) units.

The Field Director- Similipal Tiger Reserve, Odisha, approached WTI in setting up a rescue center-cum-MVS unit operating from Similipal Tiger Reserve. The forest department in Similipal informed WTI that they have been attending to cases of wildlife emergencies for almost two years now through their local infrastructure. The field director indicated that they had attended to 66 cases since 2011. The affected wildlife belonged to various species of mammals (elephants, fishing cat, pangolin, mouse deer, etc.), birds (owls, parakeets, hornbill, etc.) and reptiles (banded krait, python, chameleon, etc.). The MVS unit in Similipal Tiger Reserve was officially launched on 15th May 2014. 

Similipal Tiger Reserve, located in the northern part of Orissa’s Mayurbhanj district, is spread over 2750 sq. km and 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, 164 species of butterflies and 1078 species of plants. The 1,555.25 sq. km Similipal Buffer Zone has 65 villages, with a population of over 12,500 people, mostly within the Reserve Forest. An estimated 250,000 people from nearly a dozen tribal denominations reside in over 400 villages on the fringes of Similipal Tiger Reserve. The MVS-STR is conveniently located at the fringe of STR at Pithabada Wildlife Range Office in Baripada and poised to immediately respond to any wildlife emergency which may arise. For the first time, the state of Odisha will have a dedicated mobile unit manned by trained veterinarian and caretaker to attend to wildlife emergencies reported from the region. 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 unit will be served by a small field station that will have basic facilities to accommodate temporarily displaced animals till their release. Non-releasable animals will be sent to zoos for lifetime care and breeding. The unit by its presence in the area will also help to create awareness drives amongst the local villagers on how to deal with and respond to different conflict scenarios.

On the 10th of November, our veterinarian was called to attend to a “cat like” creature that had entered a villager’s hut. It had been trapped inside the hut by the family. The vet, suspecting it was a civet, rushed there. The visit to the house soon confirmed his suspicions. An Asian Palm Civet had decided that a beam under the roof of the house seemed like a good place to shelter.

The Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), or “toddy cat” is a small nocturnal and arboreal mammal and classified as ‘Least Concern” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is protected under Schedule II of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 in India.

The vet managed to catch the civet and brought her back to the MVS station to give it a quick check up. It was found to be a sub adult female in overall good health apart from a few minor injuries on her tail. These injuries were treated using a topical ointment and she was given food and water for the night.

The next evening, she was released in a wooded area suitable to her needs.

Wildlife Trust of India’s (WTI) Mobile Veterinary Service (MVS) in Similipal Biosphere Reserve, Odisha also organised a training programme for the frontline forest staff from four forest divisions on ‘Rescue Basics and Ethics’ in Similipal Tiger Reserve in October.

The training was organised primarily to attend to wild displacements in and around Similipal Biosphere Reserve. Initially, this training was carried out in four Forest Divisions and Similipal TR and 15 frontline staff from each of these units participated in this unique exercise which included three foresters, seven forest guards and five senior watchers. After the training programme, five individuals from each division were selected on the basis of written and practical sessions to form a ‘Rescue Team’ of 25 individuals.

Equipment for these rescue teams has now been purchased and plans are on to train a handful of these guards in advanced rescue methods.

Another case the MVS attended was to provide a leopard that has strayed into a plantation safe passage back to its habitat. Three people had been injured by the leopard hiding in the plantation and the MVS team rushed to the site in order to aid the Forest Department staff to mitigate the situation. The crowd was controlled successfully and staff were placed in a semi circle around the plantation area. The open area pointed towards the nearest jungle. There was no need for any further intervention as the leopard moved towards the jungle and disappeared.

It was also a great opportunity for our team to spread awareness among the people and to teach them how best to deal with a situation when wildlife enters human habitation.

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Controlling the crowds
Controlling the crowds
The leopard drive continued late into the night
The leopard drive continued late into the night
 
   

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