Engaging Media for Effective and Efficient Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation

25 Jul, 2019

A 4-day training on ‘Engaging Media for Effective and Efficient Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation’, (HWC) for 3rd year undergraduate students of Mass Media was organised at St. Xavier’s College (Mumbai) by the HWC Mitigation Project from 22nd-25th July.

The training started with a benchmarking exercise and selection of ‘Thematic Champions’ where students from various groups took the responsibility for advancing the entire groups’ knowledge on the following topics:

  • ecosystem services and their contribution in Sustainable Development Goals;
  • ecology and behaviour of elephants and leopards;
  • DPSIR framework to understand drivers, pressures, state, impact and response of HWC;
  • mainstreaming HWC concerns into plans and programmes of other sectors and ;
  • community engagement through innovative communication channels.

The first day started with a session on ‘Understanding Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation in the overall development and landscape context’ with expert inputs from Mr Ramesh Menon (Media Expert), Mr Ananda Banerjee (Media expert), Mr Ajay Desai (National Wildlife Expert, DFS), Dr Vidya Athreya (Wildlife Expert), Dr Neeraj Khera (Team leader, HWC, GIZ), and Dr Floris Deodatus (International Wildlife Expert, DFS). This was followed by a role-play on the role of media in HWC mitigation. The day ended with a Fishbowl session where participants reflected on their individual roles as media professionals in mitigating HWC.

The second day focused on the holistic approach of mitigating HWC and learning from existing good practices. It featured a discussion on the approach with an expert panel comprising of Mr Ajay Desai, Dr Neeraj Khera, Dr Vidya Athreya and Dr Floris Deodatus. The session was moderated by media experts, Mr Ramesh Menon and Mr Ananda Banerjee.

A case study on ‘Human Leopard Conflict Mitigation in Mumbai’ was shared with the students by Dr Vidya Athreya (Wildlife Expert), Mr Nikit Surve (Wildlife Expert), Mr Virat Singh (Journalist) and Mr Ranjeet Jadhav (Environment journalist).

The day ended with a fishbowl discussion where students reflected on their future roles as media professionals, together with experienced media experts who write on HWC issues.

The third day focused on key issues and challenges of mitigating HWC that the media can address and offer solutions to. The session was facilitated by Mr Ramesh Menon, Dr Floris Deodatus and Mr Nikit Surve. The participants were given an on-the-spot group assignment of preparing an analysis report on online media coverage of HWC in India. The day ended with a hands-on technical writing exercise on HWC mitigation facilitated by Mr Ramesh Menon, Dr Floris Deodatus and Mr Nikit Surve.

The last day focused on the work of participants as ‘Thematic Champions’ (in a presentation format) where participants took ownership of the topics on HWC and their roles as future media professionals for mitigating HWC.

Th final evaluation was done in the form of a repeat benchmarking exercise to understand the impact of the 4-day training in key learning areas of the media students. The results were extremely encouraging as the students reported tremendous improvement in their level of knowledge and skills, indicating a strong impact of the training in raising their competencies as media professionals. They strongly supported continuation of the training module for media students. The faculty members also recommended implementing the training module for science students. The training ended with the distribution of certificates by Dr Rajendra Shinde, Principal, St Xavier’s in the presence of Ms Perrie Subramaniam, HOD Mass Media, St Xavier’s.