Developing Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Toolkit: Field survey at Kodagu, Karnataka

21 Dec, 2019

A weeklong field survey for assessment of effective and efficient preventive measures for human wildlife conflict (HWC) mitigation at Kodagu Forest Circle was carried out by the HWC project with support from KPMG from December 16th – 20th 2019.

On the first day, the team shared the plan of the survey and expected outcomes with Mr. Heera Lal, CCF Mysuru and Kodagu Circle, Mr Prabhakaran, DCF Madikeri, (Wildlife), Mr. Maria Christa Raju, DCF Madikeri (Territorial) and other forest officers.

The team also interacted with local forest department officials including DRFO, RRT team members and panchayat members at Kedekal. Key discussions focused on HWC mitigation in the Kodagu Forest Circle including the crop protection, alternate crop, early warning system using the latest technology, community participation and the use of different types of barriers.

This was followed by a visit to TATA Coffee Limited (TCL) where Mr. Karthik, TCL discussed the efforts by TCL in Kodagu to mitigate HWC in coordination with the forest department. The team interacted with the local Panchayat members and the RRT team at Chettali Panchayat to understand crop protection using Solar fencing (tentacle), Rail Barricade and other small-scale traditional methods such as tiger urine, bee fences and audio-visual deterrents being used by them.

To document live solar tentacle fencing and rapid response system, the team interacted with Mr Srinivas, DFRO, KFD along with the rapid response team (RRT) at Maldhare area.

On the third day, the team members met Mr Ajay Desai visited Chenyanakote village, Pollibetta area and met Dr. A C. Ganapathi BVSc, AH Veterinary Doctor (retd.), President, Cauvery Education Society, Gonikopalu. There were discussions on the structure and impact of solar fencing (tentacle) and other barricades on HWC.

The team visited Mathigodu Elephant Camp to understand the role of Kumki elephants, post-capture management of elephants and translocation of animal, for this purpose team interacted with Dr. Mujeebur Rahman, Assistant Surgeon, NTR and Mr Paul Anthony, ACF NTR. Mr. Sanjay Mohan, PCCF and CWW Karnataka Forest Department also joined the discussion at the camp and was briefed by the team on the progress of the survey. The team met the camp mahouts, Mr Hidayat and Mr Vasanth, to better understand the traditional knowledge associated with elephant training, Mahouts and elephant welfare at the camp. There were also discussions with WII experts on population control of species in conflict. Prof. Qamar Qureshi, and Dr. S K Muliya, and their team (immune-contraception) discussed the modern techniques and impact on the animals.

The team also interacted with the Dean, professors and students of College of Forestry, Ponnampet for different studies carried out by them on HWC in Kodagu and activities undertaken by the college related to HWC.

On the fourth day, the team visited Rajiv Gandhi National Park, Nagarhole Tiger Reserve (NTR) to observe and discuss of barricades being used by Karnataka Forest Department. Mr. Paul Anthony, ACF NTR, accompanied by Mr. Kantharaju KM, DRFO shared the effectiveness and design of the barricades being used at NTR. Further, the team also discussed the fire management practices being undertaken at Nagarhole Tiger Reserve.

On the fifth day, the team met Mr Heera Lal, CCF Mysuru and Kodagu, at Aranya Bhavan, Mysuru with DFOs of Virajpet and Madikeri and ACFs to discuss the progress of the survey.

The team also visited Dubare Elephant Camp where Dr. Mujeebur Rahman, Assistant Surgeon, NTR and mahouts shared the process, methods for planning and implementation of capture operations and post-capture management of elephants. They also discussed the use Kraals and Kumki elephants to train captured wild elephants for human-elephant conflict mitigation operations.

During the survey the team interacted with 118 people, with participation from Karnataka Forest Department, Local Panchayat Members, Private Sector, Educational Institute and Wildlife Researchers.