Training of the Rapid Response Teams from Gorumara and adjoining Landscape on Human-Leopard Conflict Mitigation in West Bengal

14 Feb, 2020

A day long training programme was organised on February 14, 2020 by the West Bengal Forest Department and GIZ, under the Indo-German Project on HWC Mitigation, at Murti Forest Campus, Jalpaiguri, North Bengal for the Rapid Response Team (RRT)/Wildlife Rescue Squad members and other officials from West Bengal Forest Department.

The training aimed at facilitating technical competencies of the RRT personnel for field testing of selected processes from the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on Human-Leopard Conflict Mitigation. 40 participants from five wildlife squads (RRTs) and four Rangers of Gorumara Wildlife and Jalpaiguri Territorial divisions participated in this training.

The training started with a welcome note by Ms. Nisha Goswami, Divisional Forest Officer, Gorumara Wildlife Division, West Bengal. She commended the frontline personnel engaged in HWC mitigation while working with limited logistic and human resources and urged them to share feedback on the key elements of the SOP on Human-Leopard Conflict Mitigation being drafted under the Indo-German Project. This was followed by contextualisation of the Indo-German Project on “Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation” (HWC) in India, by Dr. Subhadeep Bhattacharjee, Technical Expert GIZ, who emphasised the importance of field testing of all the SOPs being developed under the project. Mr. Aritra Kshettry, Consultant GIZ and one of the contributing authors to the Leopard SOP thereafter discussed key aspects of human-leopard conflict mitigation relevant to the Rapid Response Teams. Mr. Bijoy Kumar Dhar, the veterinary expert from Gorumara Wildlife Division demonstrated the use of selected veterinary equipment, such as darting gun (remote drug injector), jab sticks and other accessories to be used to chemically immobilise leopard and other large herbivores (Elephants, Gaur, Nilgai, etc.). In this interactive session, participants clarified their doubts regarding the drug doses and combination of various accessories and equipment to be used for different species of different sex and age classes.

In the next session, the participants identified the hotspots of Human-Leopard Conflict in Gorumara landscape, and development of plans for prospective mitigation measures to be adopted for such situations. They worked around four hypothetical situations. Valuable feedback was received from the individual participants along with consolidated feedback from division to range level officials as part of their group work.

The training ended with some key messages from Ms. Goswami and certificate distribution to all the participants.