Virtual ‘Training Excellence and Human Wildlife Conflict Management’ for State Forest Academies and Rangers Colleges, April 2021

29 Apr, 2021

A five-day Virtual ‘Training of Trainers’ course on ‘Training Excellence and Human Wildlife Conflict Management’ was organised for the faculty members of State Forest Training Academies and Rangers Colleges under the ‘Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation in India’ project. The training facilitated by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Dale Carnegie Training, India. It was organised in two stages viz., I. April 22 and 23 on HWC by the faculty members and experts from WII and II. April 26-28 on Training excellence by the trainers from Dale Carnegie, India. This training program aimed to train faculty members and experts from these institutions for effective implementation of various modules and courses, particularly on HWC management, for the target audiences.

Day one commenced with Dr. S. Sathyakumar (Scientist - G, WII) welcoming the participants on behalf of the Wildlife Institute of India, GIZ and MoEFCC. He pointed out that capacity building of faculty members of State Forest Training Institutes and Academies for effective delivery of the modules on Human Wildlife Conflict is one of the major outputs of the “Knowledge Support to Development of Guidelines, Specialized Field Studies and Training on Human Wildlife Conflict mitigation in India” Project. This was followed by a round of introductions. Dr. Dhananjai Mohan (Director WII), also welcomed and greeted the participants on Earth day. He highlighted the issue of HWC management in India based on his experiences as a manager in the state and as well as a faculty at the IGNFA.

Dr Neeraj Khera (Team Leader, HWCM project, GIZ), in her opening remarks, emphasized that the main objective of the project is capacity building and training of RRT members and faculty members of training institutions. She gave an overview of the project with details of project inception, planning process with MoEFCC and the three Forest Department of Karnataka, West Bengal, and Uttarakhand, with Indo-German Technical cooperation. She illustrated how the project has adopted a harmonious coexistence approach for mitigating human wildlife conflicts. Key outputs of the project include HWC mitigation guidelines for several species, HWC strategy and action plan, and management action plans. The second output is pilot testing of the guidelines in the field. She informed the participants that at the end of the project, all the concepts are measured and integrated into the teaching material of the training institutes. She was also pleased that WII could provide this training during the COVID-19 situation. She noted that participants in the ToT are not only trainers but also training planners. In this way, they will play an important role in the process of integrating learnings, SOPs, etc., into the process of training front-line personnel. She also explained how the strategic plans work in coordination with training institutions and the national and state plans.

Dr Dhananjai Mohan in his Inaugural Remarks expressed his excitement that such an important course is being organized with participants who have worked in the field in different State Forest Departments. He noted that virtual courses are now the future of training as many courses now would be on online platforms, as due to the pandemic situation in the country, face to face interactions are not possible. Thus, trainers and faculty members must learn the fundamentals of organizing more participatory and interactive training on online platforms. He gave the outline of the training process that consists of two components, the first being the HWC component, which will be based on panel discussions and expert inputs. He also briefed the participants on the second part of the ToT process with Dale Carnegie Training, India.

Dr S. Sathyakumar shared an overview of the training process with details on all group discussions and expert inputs for the first two days. He presented the statistics of human injuries, deaths, and livestock losses due to HWC in the country and each state. He pointed out that one of the reasons for the increase in conflict is also the attitude and decline in tolerance of people. He explained that HWC's drivers are human population growth, changes in land use and habitat loss. He informed participants that a variety of technological innovations are available and important means of HWC mitigation. He gave an example of the use of radio telemetry and how the trained Uttarakhand Forest Department frontline staff are trained in collaring and tracking of the leopard’s movement patterns, and they are now aware of the problem or hotspot areas of the species. He also pointed out that we need a combination of methods to deal with HWC for different species and that a single method may not work in every situation or landscape.

The second session started with a panel discussion focused on a case study on carnivores, their behavioural and ecological aspects, population management, HWC mitigation, use of modern technologies such as radio telemetry, and drones. Prof. Qamar Qureshi (Scientist – G, WII) set the context of HWC in India. He outlined the two important components of HWC - the background to history, ecology, and economic loss. He highlighted that HWC is not new issue, it has been there even 2000 years ago. He stressed that there has been a steady loss of forests and an increase in human population throughout India's history. He explained the impact of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 on highly flexible and behaviorally adaptable species such as Rhesus Macaque, Nilgai, Wild Pig and Leopard. He also apprised the participants that there are many effective ways to reduce HWC via barriers and population management.

Dr Bilal Habib (Scientist - E, WII) pointed out that the reason behind the conflict is that people ignore the fundamental reasons for the conflict. He stressed that India is the only country with 12 major carnivores. Furthermore, India has the world's second-largest network of roads, railways, and cattle. And we have only 5% of protected land for wildlife, so when wild animals need to move from one place to another, they go through human habitation resulting in conflict.

Dr Sathyakumar discussed about human-bear conflicts in the country. He provided an overview of the four bear species in India and their biogeographic range. He emphasized that the treatment of the ultimate causes of HWC and the treatment of visible drivers are two different things. He elaborated some actions on people such as behavioural change while moving in bear habitats, and on animals, such as the use of repellents, relocations, deterrents, and barriers for reducing HWC. He also described how various technologies can be used effectively for HWC mitigation tools such as radio telemetry, drones, camera traps, genetic methods, enhanced deterrents and barriers. These presentations were followed by highly interactive and participatory discussions. The panel discussion concluded with further discussions on the effect of negative and adverse conditioning in mitigating HWC.

The last session of the day was on “Case Study and experience sharing on elephant, other herbivores, primates – behavioural and ecological aspects, population management, HWC mitigation, use of modern technology such as radio-telemetry, immune-contraception.” Professor Qamar Qureshi enumerated the prevalent methods for HWC mitigations like physical barriers and deterrents. He focused on long-term mitigation measures like surgical and immuno-contraception for population control. These methods are being used in elephants, Rhesus macaque and wild pig. For primates, the best method is surgical in urban and rural areas and immuno-contraceptive should be used in the Protected Areas and forest-village interphase to avoid permanent sterility of partly wild populations. Dr S. P. Goyal (Subject Matter Specialist, WII), presented on the HWC mitigation of the Nilgai, that is a major conflict species in semi-arid and arid regions of India. He also elaborated on the issues related to elephants i.e., their habitat is interspersed with either human-dominated landscape or agricultural fields.

Mr N. Lakshminaryanan (Project Scientist- Elephant Cell, WII), presented the case studies on Human-Elephant Conflict and its mitigation. He stressed on understanding animal behaviour for its effective management. He presented the statistics of human and elephant deaths throughout the country but also cautioned that this data is an underestimation as it does not account for elephant going into the forest and dying. He highlighted the ecology of the species, the type of landscapes and forest types the species lives in and the entire suite of ecosystems are need for the species to survive. He pointed out the difference in life history and strategies of male and female elephant and its importance to understand these differences for conflict management. He then elaborated on the different barriers and mitigation tools and their effectiveness. During the discussion, many participants presented their own experiences with elephant conflict.

The second day of the training began with expert inputs from Dr Parag Nigam (Scientist- F, WII), on wild animals capture and physical and chemical restraint methods. He explained that animal capture might not be a theoretical topic and requires practical training, however, emphasized on sensitization of trainers of various aspects of capture. He shared some case studies of capture wherein the animal was in distress and needed human interventions. He explained that capture is a small component of wildlife management and long term strategies like habitat management and restoration are also important, and that translocation is not a significant solution; removing the animal would create space and other individuals would come to occupy this space. Mr P.C Tyagi (Former PCCF_HoFF and faculty, WII) provided inputs on existing legal tools on wildlife and HWC management and the National Strategy and Action Plan being developed for HWC management under the Indo-German project. He explained various sections under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, relevant for animal capture, driving away strayed individuals, and other situations relevant to HWC management. He elaborated various definitions, processes for permissions, the difference between standard procedure and guidelines, and listed various lacunae in wildlife laws and practices. During the discussion with participants, he explained various techniques to capture animals and the process of taking permissions, and necessary resources, legal aspects of snake handling and rescue, and necessary updates needed in existing laws for better conflict resolution.

The last talk of the day was by Dr Anil Kumar Bhardwaj (Former faculty, WII), who discussed various social dimensions of HWC management. He shared statistics regarding HWC in the country and the economic implication of conflict in various region of Uttarakhand. He explained the impact of HWC on various aspects of human well-being including the freedom of choice and action, and psychological cost of conflict on affected people. He highlighted the gender and cultural aspects of HWC and how several stakeholders play a crucial role in conflict resolution. The communities that live in the area of interface with wildlife are socially, economically, politically and ideologically diverse, which could drive the perception of people towards wildlife, various policies and management authorities. He highlighted the legal implications of human aspects in HWC and emphasized the collective ownership of the issues involved in human-wildlife interface for a favourable platform for dealing with HWC. He further added that mitigation strategies such as installing barriers should also look into spill-over of the problem to other areas in the landscape and run- of- the-mill solutions could be practised while finding long-term solutions. He concluded that conversations regarding HW interface are based on only peripheral understanding and requires more social-scientific and ecological studies, with better discussions and experimentations.

On day three of the training program, the Dale Carnegie training excellence program was initiated. The program was conducted by Ms. Vivian who introduced the program focus planned for the next three days. The first part of the day’s program dealt with ‘Creating Organization Impact’. The second session focused on ‘Presenting with Impact’. She highlighted that the message (content) also needs to be conveyed in a “fact-benefit-evidence’ framework so that the participants understand the benefit they will get from this program or presentation.

Day four of the training began with a recap of the concepts participants had learned in the previous day, how would they apply the learning of ToT into their work and what benefit would they get from the implementation of this learning into their presentation style. The day’s program focused on the “facilitation of group results and building business relevance as per the organization’ goal to one’s work”. Various participatory methods based on golden principles of building human relationships were discussed to gain willing cooperation from the audience and for changing attitudes and behaviours. Participants, working in virtual breakout rooms, listed situations where these rules could be applied and benefit from these. The next session focused on interpersonal skills to handle disruptive behaviour and sustaining measurable success. Post lunch, the participants shared their queries. They also played a quiz on handling various disruptive behaviours and discussed their responses to understand the correct actions in ideal and practical situations. In the final assignment participants worked in groups of two/ three and prepared a presentation on the topic of their choosing.

The last day focused on the teach-back and skills gained by the participants during the training with Dale Carnegie. The day began with a post-training assessment by participants of the concepts and competency/ skills learnt challenges they face, where they can apply these learning and how will they benefit with overall training. This was followed by a breakout session where each group from the previous evening discussed and reviewed their assignment for the final presentation. This was followed by detailed group presentations and feedback from the trainer on presenting with an impact using presentation structure, voice modulation, and camera settings.

Participants were appreciative of interactive sessions throughout the training and informed that they will be sharing these methods during their training sessions at their respective academies. They thanked WII and GIZ for this high-quality learning experience. In the current time of pandemic and virtual teaching, they found the training relevant and beneficial in creating interactive sessions and keeping trainees engaged. The training was closed by Dr Dhananjai Mohan who appreciated the efforts of the WII team and showed his pleasure with the positive feedback from the participants. He also thanked Mr R. P. Singh, Director of Forest Education, Dehradun who facilitated the training and ensured the participation of all the academies and rangers colleges. Dr C Ramesh concluded the training with a Vote of Thanks. He thanked all the participants, their respective academies and colleges, Director of Forest Education, GIZ, Dale Carnegie, MoEFCC, WII-GIZ-HWCM project team and WII IT section.

The participants will be implementing the learning as Master Trainers into their sessions. To conclude in the words of another participant,” it was a very friendly atmosphere to learn, interact and the input given for planning a training programme, what are the factors to be taken in to account to develop Training process, the structure of the training, and gave us practical input on opening and closing of presentations.”


About the project

The Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation (HWC) project is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and State Forest Departments of Karnataka, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. The project 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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