WCS mission is to save wildlife and wild lands. While research provides guidance for conservation practice in each context, we believe in demonstrating ‘working models’ of conservation on ground through long term commitment to 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. Our conservation is effectively done through a network of dedicated local partners who continually engage with officials, wildlife managers, local communities, opinion makers and social leaders located near our key long-term sites. The key to our conservation approaches are committed local partners who share our ecological world-view, are inspired by our mission and can work in conformity within the existing framework of Indian laws. Although our conservation actions are site-based, our interventions are also scaled up to state and national levels as appropriate.
Western Ghats Central: Malenad-Mysore Tiger Landscape (MMTL)
One of the largest and long running tiger monitoring and conservation programs in the world, the MMTL stands testimony to WCS – India Program’s resolute long term commitment to site-based conservation. The Malenad–Mysore Tiger Landscape (MMTL) in Karnataka encompasses 14 Protected Areas including four Tiger Reserves and extends over 30,000 sq. kms of deciduous and evergreen forests. Our core sites include the well known Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Dandeli-Anshi National Park, Kudremukh National Park, Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. 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. Our tiger conservation efforts have now expanded to cover an area of over 30,000 sq. kms, which is estimated to hold about 400 wild tigers. These Western Ghat forests also harbor several other endangered species like the Asiatic elephant, lion-tailed macaque, Malabar civet and the great pied hornbill.
Our approach directly confronts key threats that are depressing numbers of tigers, their prey populations and other rare wildlife. Such threats include: illegal shooting, snaring and poisoning of wild animals by local miscreants as well as professional wildlife traders; destruction and degradation of habitat from both local resource demands and industrial and economic growth. Over 16 million people are packed into this landscape, yet wildlife thrives against all odds at these key sites. Besides the 250 tigers, there are twice as many leopards and over 3000 elephants sharing the same landscape. WCS – India views this context as a conservation challenge as well as an opportunity to develop innovative solutions to save them.
WCS – India extends its support to one of the most significant tiger ranges in the country in Central India. The Vidharbha region of Maharashtra is where we have already established ecological benchmarks for conservation in three potential tiger habitats: Tadoba-Andhari, Melghat and Pench.
By generating valuable scientific data, we have supported the implementation of a voluntary village relocation scheme in the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve assisted by key partners. Our conservation partners in Central India have included Tiger Research and Conservation Trust (TRACT), Nagpur and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Mumbai.
Based on a solid ecological understanding of specific needs of tigers, prey and other key conservation target species, based on science and pragmatism, WCS – India focuses on a few conservation interventions that really matter. Given the conservation context at its core sites and landscapes, the framework of Indian laws and the overall context of social development in India, WCS – India has focused on the following key interventions: