Online Training on “Holistic Approach to Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation in India” for IFS Officers at IGNFA Dehradun

11 Jun, 2020

A three-day online training for 2019-21 batch of Indian Forest Service (IFS) probationary officers at the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (IGNFA) Dehradun, was jointly organised by IGNFA, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and GIZ under the Indo-German project on HWC Mitigation in India, from 9-11 June 2020. This training on “Holistic Approach to Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation in India” saw the participation from 73 probationary IFS officers and 34 resource persons from diverse backgrounds.

Day 1 began with an inaugural session by Dr. Sasi Kumar, Faculty-IGNFA who commenced the discussion with an overview of the course and relevance of this training for the officers. Mr. S.K. Awasthi, Additional Director-IGNFA provided an overview of the MoU between IGNFA and GIZ aimed at capacity development of probationary IFS officers in the area of human-wildlife conflict mitigation. Mr. Omkar Singh, Director- IGNFA stated that the partnership between IGNFA and GIZ started with capacity development in the area of coastal and marine biodiversity under the CMPA project. He emphasised the importance of developing competencies of officers on HWC Mitigation and appreciated the support extended by GIZ. Mr. Soumitra Dasgupta, IGF (WL)-MoEF&CC shared his insights on the conflict situation and gave an overview of the efforts being made in India on mitigation measures, specifically the work being done under the Indo-German Project. Dr. Neeraj Khera, Team Leader, HWC Project-GIZ provided an overview of the project and the training approach taken up for facilitating capacity development measures in India for key stakeholders. Dr Senthil Kumar, Additional Professor, IGNFA wrapped up the session with a vote of thanks.

The first technical session was a panel discussion by experts focused on understanding human-wildlife conflict with case studies and key data on HWC in India, where Prof. B. C Choudhary, WII and Dr. Senthil Kumar, Faculty-IGNFA discussed human-crocodile conflict. Mr. Rupak De (Ex PCCF) discussed aspects of human-tiger conflict mitigation, and Dr. Bivash Pandav, Scientist-WII discussed human-elephant conflict mitigation. Dr Prashant Hedao, Consultant-GIZ discussed about information management and database on HWC.

This was followed by a session on human-wildlife conflict in an overall development context and holistic approach, where inputs were provided by Dr. Neeraj Khera, GIZ, Dr. Prashant Hedao, Consultant-GIZ, Dr. K. Ramesh, Scientist-WII and Dr. Eva Gross, Consultant-GIZ.

The afternoon panel discussion by the experts focused on human-wildlife conflict-related legal scenario and planning process with special inputs from Mr. Roy P. Thomas, Former JD (WL)-MoEF&CC, Mr. PC Tyagi-ex- PCCF Tamil Nadu, Fellow at WII, Mr. S K Khanduri Ex IGF-MoEF&CC, Mr. DVS Khati Ex PCCF and CWW, Uttarakhand, Dr. Neeraj Khera, GIZ and Mr. Rupak Dey (PCCF UP). The day ended with a brainstorming on the session’s topics.

Day 2 of the training began with concepts and experiences on human-leopard conflict mitigation and human-tiger conflict mitigation with inputs from Dr. Aditi Sharma, Senior Veterinary Officer- Rajaji Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand. She discussed the ecology and behaviour of leopards, key drivers of conflict, current state and impact of human-leopard conflict. Dr. K Ramesh, Scientist-WII discussed human-tiger conflict and key drivers of conservation agenda and people’s engagement. Dr. Shailesh G Pethe, Veterinary Officer-SGNP Mumbai shared the case study on human-leopard conflict mitigation from Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

The second session on Day 2 focused on the concept and experiences on human-elephant conflict with inputs from Dr. M. Selvan, Scientist-Project Elephant, MoEF&CC on the overall situation of human-elephant conflict in India and the efforts by the Ministry and States in mitigating it. Prof. Moses Makonjio Okello shared case studies on human-elephant conflict mitigation strategies in from East African countries.

The post-lunch session focused on the management of animal in distress and their rehabilitation with expert inputs from Dr. Aditi Sharma, Dr. Sanath Muliya- WII and Dr. Shailesh G Pethe, Senior Veterinary Officer- SGNP, Mumbai, where a detailed discussion took place on the physiology of stress, shock and trauma, safe capture of wild animals – equipment and techniques, basic pharmacology of immobilisation drugs, drug classification, legal aspects, immobilisation of ungulates, carnivores and mega herbivores, management of elephants in musth, transport of wild animals, design of transport cages, and rehabilitation and monitoring

The day ended with a session on the role of media with inputs from media and communication experts. Mr. Ananda Banerjee, Author, Journalist, Communication specialist initiated the discussion by providing cases and examples on HWC reporting and why is it necessary to ensure a smooth coordination and communication between forest and media to ensure effective HWC mitigation reporting. - Mr. Ramesh Menon, Author-Journalist- Documentary Film Maker and Corporate Trainer, New Delhi, who provided insights into the role of media and how to engage with media., Mr. Virat Singh, Communication Strategist and Journalist shared the case study of human-leopard conflict mitigation around SGNP in Mumbai form the media viewpoint and elaborated on the key factors behind bringing in such successful partnership between media and forest department. Ms. Alka Tomar, Center for Environment Communication (CEC) provided an overview of key media strategies that can facilitate effective HWC Mitigation.

Day 3 started with a session to discuss the role of communities in the management of conflict situations and engaging them in HWC mitigation in a participatory manner. Ms. Alka Tomar, CEC shared details on the inclusive and participatory approach, methods and concept of stakeholder mapping and key steps in developing communication strategy on HWC mitigation. Mr. M. Shivarambabu, DCF-Karnataka shared the case study from Hassan in Karnataka where despite a very challenging situation of a large group of resident elephants in the coffee estates, a harmonious communication has been achieved with the local community via the use of early warning and rapid response systems and by engaging the community in the planning and implementation process. Dr. Dipankar Ghose, Director- Species and landscapes division, WWF, India provided insights into the current methods and approaches for reducing the impact of HWC on human communities, such as the use of compensation, interim relief, crop guarding methods using case studies from Uttar Pradesh and Assam, and elaborated a cross-sectoral approach for addressing HWC. Mr. Aritra Kshettry, Wildlife Expert and consultant to GIZ provided a case study of North Bengal to elaborate on the measures being taken to successfully engage the local community, tea plantation workers and managers in mitigation HWC in the landscape

The concluding session began by ‘Thematic championship’ presentations by the IFS probationers. Each participant worked on a given theme under HWC Mitigation during the training period, and this was the time for them to share their reflections in a presentation format- as champions of that theme. Participants made presentations on the following themes: cross-sector cooperation for HWC Mitigation, making local communities aware of animal behaviour, use of new technology for HWC Mitigation, assessment of crop and livestock damage and cropping pattern change as a mitigation strategy, stakeholder mapping for HWC Mitigation, a national HWC database in India and landscape approach to HWC mitigation. The presentations made by the participants were a clear indication of the learning that evolved during the training, and the presentations and knowledge exhibited by the participants was greatly appreciated by the faculty and experts.

A concluding dialogue on science-management linkages was moderated by Dr Neeraj Khera where Dr. Senthil Kumar, IGNFA, reflected on the training and other capacity development measures that are currently being implemented and further requirements to equip managers for effective HWC Mitigation in India. Dr. Dhananjai Mohan, Director-WII, provided insights into the role of scientific research in supporting wildlife managers in HWC mitigation and listed key priority issues. Mr. S. K. Awasthi, Additional Director, IGNFA, encouraged the probationary IFS officers to continue their learning on the issue of HWC mitigation and discussed the crucial role that they will play in future to ensure that human-wildlife conflict is effectively mitigated in India.

In the final session of the training, Dr Sasi Kumar, IGNFA facilitated reflections from the participants and discussed the way forward. Dr Neeraj Khera shared the details of the remaining two elements of the training course, viz. follow-up phase on Microsoft Teams platform where the partcipants would be further facilitated for continued discussions with the experts in “Online Knowledge café” and will be able to work towards their plans on “Online Practice café”, and the last phase where a field expedition will be organized. Dr. Pradeep Mehta, Techncial Advisor -HWC Project, GIZ provided details of the Microsoft Teams platform.

The training was implemented jointly by IGNFA-MoEFCC-GIZ, facilitated by Dr. Neeraj Khera, Team Leader-HWC Mitigation Project, GIZ India, Dr. Sasi Kumar, Faculty-IGNFA, Dr Senthil Kumar, faculty IGFA, and supported by Mr. Pradeep Mehta, Techncial Advisor, GIZ, Mr. Vimarsh Sharma, Junior Technical Expert, GIZ and Ms. Nischita Nagappa, Junior Technical Expert, GIZ.


About the project

The Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation (HWC) project implemented by GIZ in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change aims at providing technical support at the national level, and effective implementation of HWC mitigation measures in selected states of India. The project pilot sites are: Haridwar Forest Division and adjoining landscape including Rajaji Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand, Gorumara Wildlife Division in West Bengal, and Kodagu Forest Circle in Karnataka.

The main objective of the project is that the rural population in project areas, where agreed guidelines and tools are applied to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, is better protected against it. The project takes the approach of harmonious coexistence, by ensuring that both—human and wildlife—are protected from conflict. Read More

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