WCS works to conserve wildlife and wild lands. While research guides our conservation practice, we believe in demonstrating ‘working models’ of conservation on ground through long-term commitment to protect threatened species at specific sites and landscapes. WCS – India has been engaged in helping government and non-government partners in protecting India’s flagship species, the tiger, since 1980s and this has since been expanded to include many other wildlife species.
Our conservation is effectively done through a network of dedicated local partners and together we engage with officials, wildlife managers, local communities, opinion makers and social leaders. While our conservation actions are site-based, our interventions are often scaled up to state and national levels as required.
One of the largest and long-running tiger monitoring and conservation programs in the world, the MTL stands testimony to WCS – India’s long-term commitment to site-based conservation. The Malenad Tiger Landscape (MTL) in Karnataka encompasses 14 Protected Areas including five Tiger Reserves and extends over 30,000 sq. kms of deciduous and evergreen forests. While the tiger and prey monitoring here concluded in 2017 and the data is in the process of being analysed, our efforts in conservation continue in the landscape. Our core sites for conservation include the Nagarahole-Bandipur-Wayand Complex, Bhadra-Shettyhalli Complex, Kali Tiger Reserve, Kudremukh-Someshwara-Mookambika Complex, Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple-Cauvery-Malai Mahadeswara Complex.
WCS – India has now expanded its initiatives to Tamil Nadu and Kerala to include the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Besides the tiger and leopard, these Western Ghats forests also harbour several other endangered species like the Asiatic elephant, lion-tailed macaque, Malabar civet and the Great Pied Hornbill.
In the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, WCS-India is involved in science and conservation work across 10,000 sq kms of landscape across Kawal, Amrabad and Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserves and the Gundlabrahmeswaram Wildlife Sanctuary. Scientific surveys to estimate tiger and prey numbers and to estimate species distributions, management planning, snare removal drives, capacity building workshops for the forest department, citizen science initiatives to involve and encourage interested civil society volunteers, community engagement, intelligence gathering and advocacy are part of the activities undertaken.
We also explore opportunities for relocation of people from protected areas in a bid to reduce the biotic pressures on the forests, while also alleviating the poverty and difficult situations people live in.
The India program of IUCN’s Turtle Survival Alliance which is a joint program with WCS-India, and also known as the India Turtle Conservation program, is supported by state forest departments and other agencies. It works to conserve turtles and crocodiles and other threatened species like the Gangetic Dolphins at its various field sites across the Chambal and Gangetic plain, as also the North-East.
The rehabilitation work includes studies on the breeding biology of several turtle species while the field stations also do community work, teacher training programmes, research and education, conservation projects of critically endangered turtles, hatchery programmes and acoustic and radio telemetry of animals. Also developed by the team are various livelihood models for the local community.
The TSA project team also supports the Special Task Force (Police Department) and Uttar Pradesh Forest and Wildlife Department in their seizure and sting operations, by providing on-site triage for rescued animals, housing them in quarantine ponds during rehabilitation and assisting with the release of healthy animals.
Based on an ecological understanding of specific needs of carnivores, prey and other key conservation target species, WCS – India focuses on a few conservation interventions listed below: