Weeklong Training Module on Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation for State Forest Officer Trainees at CASFOS Dehradun

06 May, 2019

A 5-day training module on Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC) Mitigation, for State Forest Service Officer trainees at the Central Academy for State Forest Service (CASFOS) Dehradun was implemented by CASFOS and GIZ jointly from April 29- May 4 as part of the ‘2017-19 SFS Induction Course’. The training began with an inaugural session in the presence of Mr R P Singh, Director DFE, Mr Kunal Satyarthi, Principal, CASFOS Dehradun, Mr Pradeep Wahule, Course Coordinator, Dr Konrad Uebelhoer, Programme Director, Indo-German Biodiversity Programme, and Dr Neeraj Khera, Team Leader, HWC Project.

After benchmarking exercise and selection of ‘Thematic Champions’, a session on basics of wildlife behaviour in context of HWC facilitated by Mr Ajay Desai and Dr Dibyendu Mandal from GIZ.

Panel discussion by Dr Suneesh Buxy, DIG(R&T) MoEFCC, Dr S Sathyakumar and Dr K Ramesh from WII, Mr Ajay Desai, Mr Kunal Satyarthi, Dr Konrad Uebelhoer, Dr Floris Deodatus, DFS Germany, and Dr Neeraj Khera facilitated brainstorming on the Drivers, Pressures, State, Impact and Response on HWC.

The day ended with a Fishbowl discussion among participants, on HWC mitigation measures facilitated by Dr C Ramesh from WII, followed by reflection by participants on their roles in mitigating HWC in their respective areas.

Day 2 started with reflections from the participants on the previous day’s learning, in the form of a fishbowl method. It focused on understanding HWC in a landscape context. Mr Ajay Desai facilitated discussion of a case study on planning the Human-Elephant Conflict mitigation measures using a landscape approach. Detailed brainstorming on habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation and its impact on HWC across landscapes was the central focus of the session. The training module was facilitated by Dr Neeraj Khera as the Lead Trainer.

Day 3 started with a recap of the previous day’s learning on planning and implementation of animal capture operations.

It focused on the competencies related to field techniques and legal provisions related to HWC mitigation. A detailed session on the important steps in planning and implementing successful capture and rescue operations was implemented by Mr Ajay Desai, Dr Aditi Sharma, Senior Veterinary Officer at Rajaji Tiger Reserve and Dr Dibyendu Mandal. The session included demonstration of the functioning of key selected equipment such as radio collars, camera traps, syringe projector, night vision and thermal binoculars etc.

A field simulation exercise on animal tracking and capture operation was conducted to conclude the forenoon session.

The afternoon session focused on legal provisions vis-a-vis HWC. A courtroom simulation was implemented on legal understanding for finding effective solutions for HWC mitigation. Participants received inputs and insights from Mr Kunal Satyarthi, Mr P K Patro-Director Rajaji Tiger Reserve and CF Shivalik-Uttarakhand Forest Department, Mr Ajay Desai, Mr Pradeep Wahule, Dr Aditi Sharma and Dr Neeraj Khera.

Day 4 of the 5-Day Training Module focused on ‘media engagement’ and started with a role play, followed by a brainstorming session and expert inputs by Mr Ananda Banerjee on how media works and building rapport with media. The session on stakeholder mapping in the context of HWC was conducted by Dr Neeraj Khera.

Dr Vidya Athreya shared the leopard case study from Maharashtra, emphasising on the importance of engaging people and shifting the focus from leopards to humans for ensuring effectiveness in human-leopard conflict mitigation. Dr Aditi Sharma shared the leopard case study from Rajaji landscape in Uttarakhand. She shared the manager’s perspective of mitigating HWC and key elements for ensuring effectiveness.

In the afternoon, a panel discussion was organised with eminent experts such as Mr DVS Khati (Ex- PCCF & CWW Uttarakhand), Dr Dhananjai Mohan (APCCF, Planning and Finance, UKFD), Mr B C Chaudhary, WTI, Dr S P Goyal, WII, Dr Vidya Athreya, Mr Ajay Desai, Dr Floris Deodatus and Mr Ananda Banerjee on understanding HWC at a landscape level, science and management linkages and role of scientific research in managing HWC, and ensuring evidence based mitigation measures.

The last day of the 5-Day Training module started with recap of the previous day followed by a panel discussion on the overall development context of HWC where inputs were provided by Dr Neeraj Khera on sustainable development goals and ecosystem services; on holistic approach to HWC mitigation measures by Mr Ajay Desai and on community engagement by Mr Abhilash Damodaran.

A session on possible methods for assessing the effectiveness of mitigation measures was facilitated by Dr Neeraj Khera, where participants worked in groups and the results were discussed by group leaders in the form of a panel discussion.

The day focused on the work by participants on their ‘Thematic Championship’ in a knowledge cafe format. Participants took ownership of the topics on HWC and developed their own strategies and operational plans on implementing HWC mitigation measures.

The day ended with the post-training benchmarking exercise that exhibited an extremely good progress in the learning of the group of participants.