Animals
 India
Project #9807

Equip Forest Guards to Protect Wildlife in India

by Wildlife Trust of India
Vetted
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
Training
Training

 

Udanti-Sitanadi Tiger Reserve, Chhattisgarh, August 16, 2016: As part of the continuing efforts under its Van Rakshak Project to train, equip and boost the morale of frontline forest staff across the country, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), in partnership with the Chhattisgarh Forest Department, conducted a three-day training programme for the staff of Udanti-Sitanadi Tiger Reserve from August 10 to 12, 2016.

 

The programme was inaugurated by Mr V Reddy, the Deputy Director of Udanti-Sitanadi and attended by 46 frontline personnel from across eight ranges of the tiger reserve. The curriculum included legal and biological aspects of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, as well as wildlife crime prevention components such as the basics of wildlife biology, tracks and signs, anti-poaching patrolling techniques, intelligence gathering, search and seizure, interrogation, crime scene investigation and the preparation of Preliminary Offence Reports. A dedicated field day ensured that trainees received a hands-on exposure to the investigative aspects of the training. Trainees were also briefed on relevant provisions of the Indian Evidence Act, Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Proceedings, and the powers conferred on them therein for the prosecution of wildlife crimes.

 

The purpose of the training was to ensure that forest staff received both wide angle and specific perspectives on the investigative and the legal aspects of wildlife crime, with close attention paid to proper case documentation and appropriate legal procedures. Trainees were evaluated on the basis of a test conducted before and after the programme; field kits were distributed to trainees who passed this evaluation.

WTI has been conducting such Wildlife Crime Prevention Training programmes under its Van Rakshak Project (VRP) since 2001. Over 16,000 frontline forest personnel have been trained in over 138 protected areas across 14 states. VRP follows a multi-pronged strategy with four thrust areas abbreviated as TEAM: Training, Equipping, Awareness and Morale Boosting, to build capacity and strengthen spirits of personnel in tough field conditions. 

 

Forest guard wearing rain suit
Forest guard wearing rain suit

Rajendra Singh Chauhan, a Range Officer with the South Balaghat Division in Madhya Pradesh, has been actively working with the MP Forest Department team in busting the nexus of traders and poachers who deal in pangolin scales. In November 2014, their team apprehended traders with three kilograms of pangolin scales and cash. They also arrested suspects from six different states and busted a crucial network. The investigation is ongoing and the team is pursuing 12 individuals involved in the trade of pangolin scales. Till this point, everything transpired as planned but Chauhan and his team faced a legal hassle. They were not sure whether they had to issue a transit remand or protection warrant. Unaware of other legal procedures, the team was losing hope.

“While handling such cases, one of the major drawbacks is that the Forest Department personnel are not aware of court proceedings and other details which are crucial for getting these criminals behind bars. We sometimes fail to bring the guilty to the book because of the lack of knowledge of certain sections and sub sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. We don’t know the legal procedures and despite all the hard work, we often fail in getting the right sentence for these criminals,” he said.

Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) team caught up with Chauhan in Mandla, Kanha Tiger Reserve, where he had come to attend Wildlife Crime Prevention Training organised by Madhya Pradesh Forest Department and WTI. The training held from January 11 to 13, 2016, saw participation of 40 forest staff from Balaghat and Jabalpur forest circles.All staff were provided field kits comprising of torches, jackets, rainsuits, sleeping bags, back pack , caps and water bottles.

During the course of training, the participants were informed about various sections and sub-sections of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972; wildlife crimes and modus operandi of poachers; criminal procedure code; crime scene investigation; case presentation by investigation team in the court room; wildlife crime investigation and documentation; and complaint filing at court.

Those who represented WTI included Jose Louies, Head, Enforcement; Advocate YK Soni; Dr RP Mishra, Regional Head; and AchintyaTripathi. Interactive sessions during the course of the training saw participants enthusiastically interacting with the team and asking questions whenever in doubt.

Chauhan added, “Such trainings help us understand that what legal procedures should be used in court to get these poachers and others the maximum sentence. When we produce these criminals in court we usually can’t answer the judges and the lawyers in legal terms. Through these trainings, we get to know about all the sections and sub-sections of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, and this will help us in not repeating mistakes. This eliminates any doubts that we have about legal proceedings,” he added. He went on to say that sometimes the forest staff takes a backseat because they think that they could end up becoming the guilty party. “These trainings benefit us and empower us.”

His views were echoed by others who believed that trainings like these would go a long way in empowering the forest staff that is unaware of their powers. The training module also had a practical session on crime scene investigation wherein everyone participated with great enthusiasm. The fresher training was followed by two day refresher training which saw participation of 36 frontline forest staff. The training was held from January 15 to 16, 2016.

JS Chauhan, Field Director, Kanha Tiger Reserve, while addressing the participants said, “You need to practice this on a day to day basis otherwise it will be of no use. The whole idea of this training is to help you in investigation, protection and if needed conviction. And in future the effects of this training should reflect in that. Trainings keep happening but this training has different significance. Your way of working will get refined by this training and I hope that everyone will learn something new from here and implement it in their day to day activities.”

In a bid to equip and strengthen the frontline forest staff of the country, VRP follows a multi-pronged strategy with four thrust areas abbreviated as TEAM: Training, Equipping, Awareness and Morale Boosting, to broadly facilitate capacity building and strengthen spirits of personnel in tough field circumstances. “Training in Madhya Pradesh for frontline field staff of territorial and Forest Development Corporation divisions along with the staff posted in National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries is just another step in making our forests safer for wildlife," said Suresh Chand, Senior Advisor, VRP, WTI.

Field trainings
Field trainings
WTI
WTI's Jose Louies during the training

Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) team along with  Madhya Pradesh Forest Department organised Wildlife Crime Prevention training at Kanha Tiger Reserve  from January 11 to 13' 2016-  had participation of 40 forest staff from Balaghat and Jabalpur forest circles. 

Rajendra Singh Chauhan, a Range Officer with the South Balaghat Division in Madhya Pradesh, has been actively working with the MP Forest Department team in busting the nexus of traders and poachers who deal in pangolin scales. In November 2014, their team apprehended traders with three kilograms of pangolin scales and cash. They also arrested suspects from six different states and busted a crucial network. The investigation is ongoing and the team is pursuing 12 individuals involved in the trade of pangolin scales. Till this point, everything transpired as planned but Chauhan and his team faced a legal hassle. They were not sure whether they had to issue a transit remand or protection warrant. Unaware of other legal procedures, the team was losing hope.


“While handling such cases, one of the major drawbacks is that the Forest Department personnel are not aware of court proceedings and other details which are crucial for getting these criminals behind bars. We sometimes fail to bring the guilty to the book because of the lack of knowledge of certain sections and sub sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. We don’t know the legal procedures and despite all the hard work, we often fail in getting the right sentence for these criminals,” he said.

During the course of training, the participants were informed about various sections and sub-sections of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972; wildlife crimes and modus operandi of poachers; criminal procedure code; crime scene investigation; case presentation by investigation team in the court room; wildlife crime investigation and documentation; and complaint filing at court. 

Those who represented WTI included Jose Louies, Head, Enforcement; Advocate YK Soni; Dr RP Mishra, Regional Head; and Achintya Tripathi. Interactive sessions during the course of the training saw participants enthusiastically interacting with the team and asking questions whenever in doubt. Chauhan was the one who was most active during the three day long training programme.

He added, “Such trainings help us understand that what legal procedures should be used in court to get these poachers and others the maximum sentence. When we produce these criminals in court we usually can’t answer the judges and the lawyers in legal terms. Through these trainings, we get to know about all the sections and sub-sections of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, and this will help us in not repeating mistakes. This eliminates any doubts that we have about legal proceedings,” he added. He went on to say that sometimes the forest staff takes a backseat because they think that they could end up becoming the guilty party. “These trainings benefit us and empower us.” 

His views were echoed by others who believed that trainings like these would go a long way in empowering the forest staff that is unaware of their powers. The training module also had a practical session on crime scene investigation wherein everyone participated with great enthusiasm. 

The fresher training was followed by two day refresher training which saw participation of 36 frontline forest staff. The training was held from January 15 to 16, 2016. 

JS Chauhan, Field Director, Kanha Tiger Reserve, while addressing the participants said, “You need to practice this on a day to day basis otherwise it will be of no use. The whole idea of this training is to help you in investigation, protection and if needed conviction. And in future the effects of this training should reflect in that. Trainings keep happening but this training has different significance. Your way of working will get refined by this training and I hope that everyone will learn something new from here and implement it in their day to day activities.”

In a bid to equip and strengthen the frontline forest staff of the country, WTI has been conducting Wildlife Crime Prevention Training Programme under the VRP since 2001. VRP follows a multi-pronged strategy with four thrust areas abbreviated as TEAM: Training, Equipping, Awareness and Morale Boosting, to broadly facilitate capacity building and strengthen spirits of personnel in tough field circumstances. “Training in Madhya Pradesh for frontline field staff of territorial and Forest Development Corporation divisions along with the staff posted in National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries is just another step in making our forests safer for wildlife," said Suresh Chand, Senior Advisor, VRP, WTI. 

An introduction to the training
An introduction to the training

In spite of stringent laws, poaching, for various purposes, has been identified as a major threat to populations of many wild species. Wildlife trade across the country is organized and has strong international connections through the porous borders of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh & Myanmar. Approximately 4.7% of the country’s geographical area is protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and affords suitable habitat for potentially viable populations of rich wildlife. Protection for the animals and their habitat is, thus, of prime concern in the protected area network.

Central India holds one of the largest source populations of tiger and its co-predator throughout its distribution. But since last decade, poaching and illegal trading cases have increased in this landscape. Plenty of wildlife is present outside the Protected Areas (PAs) in  the state of Madhya Pradesh (MP) and staff in territorial divisions or outside PAs do not possess adequate knowledge on various legal aspects such as WL (P) Act, 1972  nor are they completely equipped to protect them. In fact, one of the principal difficulties in combating the poaching problem is the lack of wellequipped and trained field staff and most of the staff working outside the PAs do not possess basic personal antipoaching kits to perform their duties and responsibilities efficiently. 

The Wildlife Trust of India carried out its Wildlife Crime Prevention Training Module for the Front Line Forest Staff in Madhav National Park in order to address some of these deficiencies.

Madhav National Park (MNP) is located in Madhya Pradesh (25.4667° N, 77.7500° E). The total area of MNP is 354 km2 . It was named after Madho Rao Scindia, the Maharaja of Gwalior belonging to the Scindia dynasty of the Marathas. The park is situated in Shivpuri District of Gwalior region in northwest Madhya Pradesh on Agra to Mumbai National Highway-3. The park has a varied terrain of forested hills and flat grasslands around the lake making it extremely biodiverse. Commonly sighted fauna include the graceful little chinkara or Indian gazelle, and the chital. The sambhar, chausingha or four-horned antelope, blackbuck, sloth bear, leopard and the common langur are also present here. This National park is also home to equally diverse avi fauna whilst muggars, monitor lizards and the Indian python can be found around its SakhyaSagar Lake.

The goal of the present project was to increase the operational efficiency of the frontline forest staff serving for Madhya Pradesh Forest Department. The objectives of the training were as follows:

-          Create strong, motivated and well-equipped field frontline forest staff.

-          Boost field staff morale for effective anti-poaching operations.

-          Curb poaching and to check forest degradation

Two batches of training were conducted whereby the first batch comprised of staff that had not received any training on Wildlife Crime Prevention whilst the second batch was a refresher course for staff that had already undergone WTI's Wildlife Crime Prevention Training the year before. 

The course for the new trainees included sessions on the biodiversity of Madhya Pradesh and the identification of animals through their pugmarks, scat, hoof prints etc. The course consisted of an overview of wildlife crime trends in India and globally, Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 of India and its various sections, anti-poaching techniques, Crime Scene Investigation, intelligence gathering, interrogation techniques, and preparation of Preliminary Offence Report (POR) as well as complaints to be submitted in the trial courts with proper documentation.  

During the training, audio and visual aids were used along with a practical field demonstration. In the demonstration, a mock Crime Scene was created and teams were formed for conducting the investigation. The mistakes committed by the investigation teams were pointed out to them, and they were briefed about procedures of collecting and preserving (including sealing and collection of forensic evidence) evidence. Afterwards, they were asked prepare complete set of documents to be submitted in the court along with the complaint for the crime they had investigated. The lacunae were discussed with them and they were taught how to correlate sections with the various evidences collected from the crime scene. 

The refresher training consisted of a brief recap of the training from the previous year and went on to train them in more in depth methods of Wildlife Crime Prevention, including building informer networks and case studies.

A total of 48 trainees attended the training for the first time and 50 trainees were given the refresher training. 

The course materials provided in the fresher and refresher training in Madhav National Park are listed below.

1. Wildlife Crime (Hindi) - provided to each participant

2. Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (Hindi) - provided to each participant

3. A field guide to Indian Mammals (Hindi) – provided to toppers in pre-training test.

4. Know your wildlife – provided in exercise groups

Pre and post training tests were conducted to assess the trainees. Feedback collected from the trainees contained an overwhelmingly positive response with around 90% of the trainees indicatingthat the exercise on mock Crime Scene Investigation was very innovative and useful for real-time investigation and the entire course to be relevant to their work.

Certificates were distributed to each trainee after the successful completion of the training. All the certificates were signed by the CCF & Field Director, Madhav National Park and Mr.Vivek Menon, Executive Director, WTI. In addition to the certificates, ‘A Field Guide to Indian Mammals’ Authored by Mr.Vivek Menon was also given as an award to those trainees who performed exceptionally well during the training.

The trainees strongly recommended that refresher training should be organised every year for the staff of Madhav National Park and fresh training should be organized for the staff of Gwalior and Morena divisions. The trainees also desired that WTI should prepare a specialized field guide on wildlife crime prevention for forest staff.

In the light of knowledge increment of trainees , their co-operation and interest, and feedback of the present training and provision of field kits, it can be assumed that the Crime Prevention Training to all frontline staff provided by WTI-MP Forest department was very useful. 

Enforcement Training
Enforcement Training
The Trainees had a Lot of Questions!
The Trainees had a Lot of Questions!
Distributing the course material
Distributing the course material
 

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Organization Information

Wildlife Trust of India

Location: Noida, Uttar Pradesh - India
Website: http:/​/​www.wti.org.in
Project Leader:
Aanchal Saxena
Noida, Uttar Pradesh India

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