01 Jul, 2021
A three-day online training on “Holistic Approach to Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation in India” was conducted from 29th June to 1st July 2021 for 67 IFS probationers of Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (IGNFA), Dehradun. This virtual training is a part of the course curriculum aimed at sharing the current issues in human-wildlife conflict (HWC) and discussing the possible mitigation framework according to the holistic and co-existence framework.
Day One: In the inaugural session Dr Pradeep Mehta (Technical Advisor, GIZ) introduced the HWC module to the participants. He briefed them on the wildlife conflict mitigation training for forest services which is a joint effort of GIZ, IGNFA and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Mr Amit Kumar (Associate Professor, IGNFA) welcomed Mr Bharat Jyoti (Director, IGNFA), Mr Sushil Sharma (Joint Director, Wildlife, MoEFCC), Dr Pradeep Mehta and all participants for the training on human-wildlife conflict. He highlighted that HWC and specific mitigation measures relevant to the Forest Department will be covered in the training. He was hopeful that the training will benefit all probationers.
Mr Bharat Jyoti welcomed the participants and discussed how development, infrastructure projects and population growth also affect forest and wildlife. Emphasising the relevance of HWC module he pointed out the need to understand the holistic approach and its different connotations. He thanked GIZ and the faculties of IGNFA and wished the programme success.
Dr Sushil Sharma (JD Wildlife) congratulated GIZ and IGNFA for implementing the HWC module. He pointed out that HWC is not limited to Protected Areas (PA) and its surroundings, but are now spread into many human-dominated areas. He emphasized that forest departments need both short-term and long-term approach and need to work with Joint Forest Management committees, Rural Development and Revenue Departments. In the short-term approach, Rapid Response Teams are important components which will be equipped to handle crisis situations.
Dr Pradeep gave an overview of the project with details of project objectives, outcomes and structure. This was followed by a round of introductions and benchmarking of participants. Thematic Champions concept was also introduced to the participants and participants were requested to select a topic on which they would present on the final day of the training course.
Technical Sessions: In the first session, Dr S. Sathyakumar (Scientist – G, Wildlife Institute of India), presented on “Human-Wildlife Conflicts: Definitions, Drivers, Pressures and Challenges”. He gave an overview of changes in the trends in HWC over the last few decades and highlighted the trend of HWC due to major species like tiger, elephant, leopard and sloth bear. He deliberated on the major drivers of HWC, carrying capacity and the challenges in managing HWC.
Dr Dibyendu Mandal (Technical Expert, GIZ) presented on population management taking a landscape approach. He talked about defining the population and landscape, various density-dependent and density-independent limiting factors. He discussed two major population management approaches – manipulative and custodial management. He also spoke about the conceptual approach of HWC mitigation in India using the DPSIR framework.
Dr Rishi Kumar (Project Scientist, WII) briefed the participants on the major mitigation concepts with eight broad topics. He explained the role of wildlife managers, biologist, sociologist and veterinarian in HWC mitigation and highlighted the importance of various Early Warning and Rapid Response Mechanisms as a first line of defense against HWC, and presented technologies that are now being used as early warning systems.
The second session of the day, “Expert Input and Discussion on Megafauna of India – Occurrence and Distribution” started with an overview of crocodiles and their conflict by Dr BC Choudhury. He discussed the habitat preference and ecology and distribution of the three crocodilian species of India. He deliberated on some of the important aspects of HCC, ranging from people’s perception, history and cause of conflict, management strategies adopted, and some HCC concerns related to policies.
Dr Navaneethan Balasubramani (Technical Expert, GIZ) introduced the Gaur and its distribution to the participants. He deliberated on the ecological importance of Gaur, its distribution and sub-species differences. He discussed the ecological characteristics, complex conservation scenarios and threats faced by the species.
Dr Dibyendu Mandal (Technical Expert, GIZ) presented on “Occurrence and Distributions of Tiger”. He discussed the historical distribution of the species, and how the present distribution is fragmented in few countries. He illustrated the distribution of the tiger in various protected areas of India and various corridors of the species.
The last presentation of the session by Dr Rishi was on “Occurrence and Distribution of Rhesus macaque” in which he highlighted the historical spread of genus Macaca, and the wider distribution of more generalist species that have adapted to humans. In the Indian context, he deliberated on the major HWC concerns and the solutions, specifically looking at the issues concerning translocations, and use of sterilization as the effective solutions.
The second session focused on ‘HWC related legal scenarios and planning process’. Mr P.C. Tyagi shared his experience working in the Tamil Nadu Forest Department. He presented on “HWC Legislation for Mitigating Conflict” and talked about various policies for mitigating HWC and provisions under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. He discussed various situations in the field and issues in law and practice.
Day Two: The first session of the day started with Expert Input on “Understanding the role of communities in the management of conflict situations and engaging them in HWC mitigation in a participatory manner.” Dr Ruchi Badola explained the HWC within context of gender. She gave an overview of loss in and around PA including human life and elephants.
The second part of the discussion on the role of communities centred on reducing the impact of HWC with stakeholder engagement. Dr Pradeep explained how to identify various stakeholders. He demonstrated that these stakeholders can be further grouped via a matrix of interest and influence. Further, five breakaway groups were formed and each group deliberated on the stakeholders for interest and influence matrix. After 20 minutes the breakaway groups were again joined to the main session and each group presented their stakeholder analysis for HWC mitigation.
In the second session of the day on the ‘Concepts and experiences on Human Elephant conflict, case studies from India’, Shivaram Babu M (DCF (WL) – Madikeri, Kodagu, gave a brief historic overview of HWC. He pointed out different drivers of conflict and an overview of the Hasan Landscape consisting of just 4 taluks bordering forested areas and coffee estates throughout.
Dr Aritra Kshettry (INSPIRE- Fellow, Ministry of Science and Technology and GIZ consultant), presented an overview of the human-leopard conflict from the tea gardens of North Bengal. He emphasized how leopard is very adaptable and highlighted how leopard habitats are interspersed with human habitats due to tea plantations, forests and human habitation matrix and its consequences.
The last session of the day involved discussion and case studies on the role of media and how to engage with media. Mr Ramesh Menon (Senior Journalist) highlighted that HWC is going to increase with more developmental projects and increasing human population. He pointed out that it is very important to engage with the media, as media is a vehicle for communicating with people. He asked the probationers to persuade editors and journalists to write their stories on these issues. He advised them to engage with media faculty and students via workshop in school and colleges and create opportunity with radio, FM and social media.
In the second media session on “Forest Media Cooperation: Media Case studies”, Mr Virat Singh (Communication Strategist, Asar) presented on “Media’s soft SPOT for Mumbai’s leopard”. He spoke about how the Forest Department needs to be the voice of the leopard as it can’t speak to the media.
Day Three: The first session of the day started with an interactive discussion with the Central Zoo Authority on “Animals in Distress and their rehabilitation”. Dr Sonali Ghosh (DIG, CZA) and Dr Gowri Mallapur (Veterinary Consultant, CZA) initiated a presentation and interactive session. Dr Gowri talked about the situations that warrant interventions, the kind of stress the animal experiences, and maladaptation. She talked about chemical and physical restraints, various delivery systems and sites for darting. She also introduced zoos as an intensive management system and sites for ex-situ conservation of wildlife.
Dr Deepti Arora (Veterinary officer, Uttarakhand Forest Department) presented on wildlife monitoring methods in the field. She gave insights into various sign surveys for large and medium sized mammals, spatially explicit capture recapture (camera traps), telemetry tracking systems (radio-collars) and aerial surveys for photo and video capture. She dwelled specially on the management of the elephant in Musth.
The second session on management issues was initiated by Mr Amit Garg (IPS, Joint Director, Police Academy Hyderabad). He deliberated on “Crowd Management” and explained the characteristics of a crowd, how people in a crowd behave differently with heightened emotions, are more open to suggestions, trends of accepting commands of a leader, and how people in a crowd experience a sense of power and anonymity . He focused specifically on crowd management issues during HWC incidences, rescue operations and the challenges before the foresters and the collective action that can be taken with police.
In the second session on management, Dr Dhananjai Mohan (Director, Wildlife Institute of India), highlighted the role of scientific research in managing HWC in the field. He elaborated on the various technologies available now for HWC mitigation, from animal tracking technologies to capture and handling, identification technologies, barrier designing, hot spots and corridor identification techniques. He described technologies like drones, use of infrared cameras on the drones, and how it has been used in monitoring.
The last session showcased participant presentations as Thematic Champions. Participants collected information during the course on their respective topics from the 3-day training programme. The training was moderated by Dr Pradeep Mehta, Technical Advisor HWC project and co-moderated by Dr Rishi Kumar, Consultant GIZ.
Thematic Champion Presentations
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—humans and wildlife—are protected from conflict. Read More
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