Animals
 India
Project #11187

Protect Tigers in India

by Wildlife Trust of India
Field Team locating strayed Tiger
Field Team locating strayed Tiger

Large carnivores are facing a massive decline in their population, which is a global conservation concern. Among large carnivores, tigers especially are continually threatened by number of threats. India, which holds the 70% of the world's tiger population face a challenging task in protecting the species. The tiger population here is confined to small and isolated forests where stochastic events and continuing human impacts had an adverse impact leading it to extinction.

WTI has been a pioneer in addressing the conservation threats to tiger population in India. A number of enforcement initiatives have been taken up by the team in support of the state forest departments to address the rising demand for tiger skin and bones. WTI was the first organization to identify snares as a serious threat to the survival of wildlife, especially tigers, in the Protected Areas of India. Snares made up of loop (noose) of cordage are placed by hunters and poachers, camouflaged with vegetation across an animal trail or other place where an animal is likely to walk through. The big carnivores get trapped in these wires and get entangled.  They are usually placed by local hunters & poachers to illegally collect body parts of big cats and farmers to avoid conflicts with them. In Bandipur TR, WTI in collaboration with Karnataka FD officials conducted many anti snare walks in and around the PA, where the team unearthed more than 1000 deadly snares from an area of over 2200 sq km. Recently, based on local intelligence the team recovered around 56 snares from Kenchanakere, Hunsur district  and Chamundi hills, Karnataka.

In the state of West Bengal, Sundarban TR is a world heritage site. Tigers here notoriously termed as “Maneater” often come in conflict with humans. Apart from livestock depredation, tigers often attack human inside forests when engaged in activities like fishing, fuelwood collection. However, there has been a recent trend of tigers coming inside village and killing humans especially in the winter months. Through your support WTI have conducted sensitization programs in few high conflict villages engaging all stakeholders. We also formulated rapid response teams by involving the youth of the villages whose primary responsibility will be to assist the FD officials in driving the tiger away from human habitation and keeping the crowd in control, to prevent any retaliation. This response team was recently equipped with high powered lights and blow horns to sound an alert in case a tiger is sighted in the village. The field team have also planned to use barriers (through nylon nets) around the village vicinity. In one instance the rapid response team provided local intel to the FD staff in capturing a strayed tiger. Based on the local intel from this team, the FD staff set the trap leading to its successful capture. The FD is planning to release the tiger back into the wild.

Equipping the Team
Equipping the Team
Awareness among villagers
Awareness among villagers

Sundarban holds a huge population of endangered and highly threatened species including the only population of tigers in a coastal mangrove habitat. As per the last census conducted in 2014, this landscape holds approx 76 individuals of Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). Historically, known for their man-eating behaviour, the conflict with humans is always at its peak. The estimates of human kills range from 50 to 250 people per year, mostly honey collectors, fishermen, crab collectors, & even Forest frontline staff.  Although awareness initiatives have succeeded in sensitizing and reducing the entry into the forest which has led to the reduction of conflicts in the villages, however remote villages are still facing the issue Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) initiated a rapid project aimed at curbing the immediate threats in these conflict prone villages.

In the recent few years, villages under the Gurguria Bhubaneswari Gram Panchayat have witnessed a rise in tiger encounters inside villages, especially in winter months. There has also been a considerable rise in human mauling, mortality and livestock depredation cases in these villages. To address this, the project undertook sensitization programs to aware villagers about do’s and don’ts during conflict scenario. The project team engaged with concerned stakeholders like the village heads, fishermen and farmers clubs, fishermen groups, Block development officers, forest departments etc and sensitize the youth to form ten rapid response conflict mitigation groups in Purba Gurguria, Bhubaneshwari, Deulbari, Madhya Gurguria and Maipith  These teams currently are assisting the forest dept. in mitigating the human tiger conflict.  Recently, a tiger was reported from Kultali village which is adjacent to our targeted village. The local response teams helped forest forest department in tracking the stray tiger and located it at Kishorimohonpur. The team also helped in crowd management during the tiger capture and transport operation. The tiger was successfully captured by the Forest dept and will soon be released back to the wild.

Through this project, teams comprising of local youths and village heads (from the Panchayats) have been formed in the targeted villages. It is been suggested by the villagers that ‘Shanks’ (shell used in worship) will be blown during the conflict to raise alarms for tiger presence in and near vicinity of the area.  The response team were helpful in curbing the issue of conflict at ground level.

WTI was the first organization to identify snares as a serious threat to the survival of wildlife, especially tigers, in the Protected Areas of South India. The snares made of galvanized steel wires or improvised motor-vehicle-clutch wires, capable of entangling big herbivores and carnivores. Local hunters and poachers use snares, as they are the cheapest, simplest and most effective way of trapping animals. Snares are placed usually in strategic areas like the Park-boundaries and agricultural fringes. Once get caught, the big cats could face a slow and painful death. With your support, WTI have undertaken many anti snare walks in Bandipur TR covering an area of about 2285kms and removed 1161 snares till date in assistance with Forest Dept.  Forest departments from adjoining forest divisions after witnessing the success are requesting our team to replicate the anti snare initiatives in their respective areas as well. The walks as well as the increased monitoring by STPF and WTI team allows for encouragement of interaction between the Forest Department Staff, Anti Snare Walk (ASW) Team and locals. These interactions are hoped to bring about an increased awareness in local inhabitants and also assist the Forest Department in the assimilation of data and information related to human wildlife conflict as well as any illegal wildlife related activity.

Also, WTI has been actively involved in the wildlife trade control of tiger. A tiger skin and other wildlife products were recovered and four persons arrested during an operation by the Manas Tiger Protection authority in October. The training WTI imparted to forest staff in Manas- including procedures for search and seizure, interrogation techniques, and the preparation of evidentiary documents helped here.

Tiger on roof
Tiger on roof
Photo 2
Photo 2

Similipal Tiger Reserve, September 23, 2016: Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), working in partnership with the Forests & Environment Department, Government of Odisha, has this morning commenced a three-day intensive training workshop on rescue and rehabilitation of displaced wildlife at Ramtirtha, Jashipur, near Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR).

 

This circle-level advanced training is a culmination of a series of workshops conducted since 2015 at various divisions of STR at the behest of the Regional Chief Conservator of Forests (RCCF) cum Field Director of STR, Mr Harish Kumar Bisht, IFS. The initial workshops were held at Baripada (core), as well as the Rairangpur, Karanjia and Balasore (wildlife) divisions with the objective of identifying and constituting circle-level teams of five Forest Department personnel in each division. These candidates having been identified, this advanced training will now focus on equipping, sensitising and further enhancing their ability to handle emergencies related to displaced wildlife.

 

The workshop was inaugurated by Mr Bisht (RCCF-cum-Field Director, STR), Dr JD Pati, IFS (Divisional Forest Officer, Rairangpur), Mr AK Biswal (Assistant Conservator of Forests, Baripada STR), Dr KK Mondal (Honorary Wildlife Warden), Major Das (a retired army officer) and representatives from WTI. “The vision of this training is to address wildlife emergencies promptly, effectively, safely and systematically”, Mr Bisht told the participants; “in times to come incidences of human-wildlife conflict are bound to rise, making such trainings invaluable.” Major Das compared the Forest Department’s frontline field staff with army soldiers, encouraging them to develop a similar outlook towards forest protection as a soldier has towards protecting the country.

The workshop will provide mainly hands-on training for the most part over the coming sessions, with some theoretical sessions on the foundations and protocols of wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, ethics and documentation. Today, Dr Khanin Changmai, Veterinary Surgeon with WTI’s Mobile Veterinary Service (MVS) unit at STR, provided a demonstration and training on using immobilisation equipment, which included shooting practice for the trainees. Other practical sessions will include technical rope rescue training on land and water bodies, mock drills on emergencies involving elephants, leopards, bears and tigers, and human-snake conflict mitigation.

Picture 1
Picture 1
Wildlife Crime Prevention Training
Wildlife Crime Prevention Training

Since 2011, the WTI team conceptualized and pioneered Anti-Snare Walks (ASW)—A joint forest walks with the forest authorities to identify and remove snares in Bandipur, mostly along the vulnerable areas like the Park-boundaries. Initially, the team, with the help of local youths, assisted the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) in removing snares. The GPS location of each snare was recorded, and has been plotted on a map. The Walks have proved to be a considerable success from the sheer number of snares identified and removed and from the overwhelming response the team and the activity got from the authorities, local organizations and communities, who themselves are conducting ASW’s in forest-fringe areas.

In 2015, WTI conducted ASW’s in Bandipur National Park, with support from Born Free Foundation. This year Team had covered eight sections and nineteen beats of six ranges from Bandipur which were Gundre, Hediyala, Moliyur, N.Begur, Nugu and Omkar Range. They have covered 189.207 kilometers by manual walk and removed 185 snares from the fringe area of Bandipur Tiger reserve.

In Nagarhole WTI had covered eleven sections and seventeen beats from five different ranges which are Aneechonkur Range, Hunsur, Kallahalla, Nagarhole   and Veeranahosahally Range. They have covered 207.022 kilometers by manual walk and removed 80 snares and 4 Evidence from the fringe area of Nagarhole Tiger reserve.

 

Capacity-building of the STPF:

 

Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has been doing Capacity Building Trainings for frontline staff in many states in India under WTI’s Wildlife Crime Prevention Training Programme. The aim of the training is to curb poaching and habitat degradation in the forests, intelligence and information sharing on wildlife law enforcement and legal issues to assist officials and to organize workshop/ meetings.

WTI conducted two days workshop for two fresh batch training of Crime Prevention Training for the frontline staff from 15th to 19th February 2016, and one additional day training in between only on CDR Analysis. This CDR Analysis was focus for the Rangers, Assistant Conservator of Forest and officials above this designation.

This entire program on the Wildlife Crime Prevention Training Programme was conducted by Wildlife Trust of India in collaboration with Forest department and Aircel.  Park Director Mr. H. C. Kantharaju was very happy about the training as this was the first ever training on CDR Analysis given to the forest officials.

There were around 25 selected forest officers who were selected from Nagarhole Tiger reserve, Biligiri, Bhadra Tiger reserve and from Madikeri forest Division. Mr.Manoj Dube who is currently based in Mumbai and is the specialist in handling CDR Analysis was called for this training in Nagarhole.  Park Director Mr. H.C. Kantharaju- the Conservator of Forest and the Inspector General of Southern Zone National Tiger Conservation Authority, Shri. P.S. Somasekhar also joined during the training at Nagarhole Range.   

Links:

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
 

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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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