National Workshop on Developing Guidelines for Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation in India

20 Sep, 2019

A National workshop on Development of Guidelines for Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation in India was jointly organised by GIZ, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), and State Forest Department of Uttarakhand, under the Indo-German project on HWC Mitigation in India at Rishikesh on 18-19 September 2019.

The Project is working towards developing the National Strategy and Action Plan, State-level Strategies, Action Plans and SOPs on HWC mitigation to facilitate a common understanding and consensus among key stakeholders in India, on key approaches and possible solutions for mitigating human-wildlife conflict in India. To this end, the Project has also partnered with the Wildlife Institute of India.

The workshop started with the inaugural address and welcome remarks from Mr. M S Negi, Additional Director General, MoEFCC, Mr. Soumitra Dasgupta, Inspector General of Forests (Wildlife) MoEFCC, Dr. Konrad Uebelhoer, Programme Director, Biodiversity Programme, GIZ, Mr. Rajiv Bhartari, CWLW (Uttarakhand), Mr. Sanjai Mohan, CWLW (Karnataka), Mr. Nitin H. Kakodkar, CWLW (Maharashtra), Mr. Sunil Pandey, CWLW (Uttar Pradesh), Mr. Sanjay Shrivastava, APCCF-Eco development (Uttar Pradesh) and Dr. Dhananjai Mohan, APCCF (Uttarakhand).

The participants included 65 experts from diverse backgrounds, such as current and former forest department officials, scientists and experts of eminent institutions such as Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), University of Mysore, Guru Govind Singh Indraprastha University, Hem Chandra acharya North Gujarat University, and wildlife conservationists from The Corbett Foundation (TCF), WWF India, UNDP India, The Rhino Foundation, Green Future Foundation and renowned journalists, communication experts and independent experts on elephant, leopard, sloth bear, wolf, nilgai, wild pig, blackbuck, Indian gaur, crocodile and rhesus macaque.

Dr. Neeraj Khera, Team Leader of the Project shared an overall concept and plan for developing the National and State Strategy and Action Plans and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for key selected species and issues. Rest of the forenoon was spent on the session where coordinating lead authors and lead authors of the key groups shared the progress on their respective documents. Dr Neeraj Khera provided the status of the National Strategy and Action Plan, Outlines of the State HWC Strategy and Action Plans and HWC Management Action Plans at Division levels. This was followed by information on SOPs on wolf, leopard, sloth bear, elephant, Indian gaur, nilgai, black buck, wild pig, rhesus macaque, crocodile and Media Strategy by Dr. Bilal Habib, Dr. Aditi Sharma, Dr. Nishith Dharaiya, Dr. K. Sankar, Dr. S. P. Goyal, Dr. Divya Ramesh, Dr. Sanath K. Muliya, Dr. C. Ramesh and Mr. Ramesh Menon, respectively.

After lunch, participants worked on further consolidation of the work in a Knowledge Café format, focusing on specific species and issue areas. Each group also worked on the following key issues:

  • Stakeholder mapping to identify key stakeholders who need to be engaged in the process of development of guidelines now onwards;
  • Consolidation of specific information and knowledge gaps where studies and surveys need to be conducted/ existing results need to be analysed to be used as information for the guideline/ information need to be compiled and consolidated;
  • Finalization of the timeline and work-plan of each member of the group leading to the National workshop in December 2019; and

Identification of new members in the list of coordinators and authors, if required. The day ended with presentations by each group in Plenary to receive feedback, brainstorming and key conclusions.

Day 2 started with a recap of the previous day, followed by an engaging experience sharing session where officers from UP Forest department shared their experiences in mitigation measures, veterinary experts brainstormed over elephant capture methods and there were specific discussions on the legal framework vis-à-vis effective HWC mitigation in India by Dr P C Tyagi. In the next session, participants brainstormed in three Knowledge Café groups – each focussing on National Database on Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation in India; detailing of the studies required to fulfil gaps; and key stakeholders who need to be engaged now onwards in the process of drafting the guidelines and procedures. The participants consolidated the contents in specific documents, each group shared their updated drafts; finalized the dates and venue for group meetings. Date for the next National Workshop to share zero drafts was finalized as November 29, 2019.

Post lunch session was organized as a Fish-bowl discussion “Bridging the gap between Scientific Research and Management Question for Effective Policy on HWC Mitigation in India”, where the participants discussed the challenges and possible solutions to work on HWC mitigation in India with effective coordination between sectors and stakeholders. After this very engaging fish-bowl session, a small event was organized between MoEFCC, Uttarakhand Forest department and GIZ, where on MoEFCC and GIZ handed over key equipment procured by the Project for the Rapid Response Teams at Rajaji-Haridwar landscape, including a rapid response vehicle, patrolling and monitoring equipment including radio collars for elephants and leopards, thermal and night vision camera device, protection gear such as bite suits. The workshop ended with a very positive feedback from participants, closing remarks from GIZ, MoEFCC and UK Forest department, and with a commitment from all present to finalize the documents by end mid-November.

The workshop was facilitated by Dr Pradeep Mehta, GIZ India.