Building Local Capacity and Citizen Science
As the threats to wildlife and wild lands escalate, WCS – India Program believes in safeguarding the country’s wildlife legacy by enabling effective conservation action by individuals. Capacity building plays its pivotal part in this realm.
The focus lies in training Indian biologists and researchers, park management personnel and non-government volunteer conservationists. All training workshops involve intensive filed sessions where participants apply sampling-based methods to monitor large mammal populations in Indian Reserves. The methods include density estimation of tiger prey species, relative abundance estimation of large herbivores and carnivores (using pellet count and scat encounter rates respectively) and the demonstration of camera trap techniques to survey and estimate carnivore populations.
Government Staff and Park Management
WCS – India Program strongly believes training government staff and park managers is critical for effective conservation application. Through our various initiatives across 24 conservation sites, the staff and park managers are frequently trained on multiplicity of areas in animal and habitat-related studies.
Since 1989 we have trained over 300 government staff in population monitoring techniques and over 200 park staff have been trained in anti-poaching measures between 1998 to 2001. Several of our training programs cover anti-poaching action, imparting information on follow up measures for legal procedures and enforcement and measures to monitor tigers and prey populations on ground.
A regular program includes basic training to improve field craft and tracking skills, mock drills, handling and effective use of firearms, wireless equipment handling and communication skills. Our senior staffs’ advice and expertise on tiger management issues is regularly sought by all park wardens and staff.
Rural Community Conservation Education
WCS – India Program regularly organizes many community education campaigns across various prime Tiger Reserves. The successful Nagarahole Wildlife Conservation Education Project initiated in 1993, was supported by WCS – India Program. Today, this model has been accepted as a fool-proof strategy at many project sites in Karnataka. The community conservation education has been active since 1998 and is mainly targeted at rural students, teachers and local community members at all our long term monitoring sites such as Nagarahole, Bandipur, Bhadra, Kudremukh and Dandeli-Anshi.
Regular interactions with local and regional journalists are frequently held through “nature camps” where journalists are brought to Protected Areas by WCS – India Program and local partners and shown both the splendors of tigers, elephants and other wildlife, while laying equal emphasis on the threats to these wonders.
The outreach efforts emphasize sensitizing local communities to the ecological, utilitarian and aesthetic value of the tigers and the forests that shelter them. The education efforts enunciate on the importance of tiger forests, its long-term ecological security to local communities, stressing on unbridled exploitation for meeting short-term benefit unwise.
Information on man-made forest fires is communicated to terminate any untoward incidents in the future. To make the interaction more dramatic, street plays propagating social awareness is frequently conducted. WCS – India Program makes relevant information available through various materials from books, films, newsletters and manuals, written in the local language.
WCS – India Program has engaged and inspired over 3000 amateur naturalists, wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, wildlife activists, teachers, journalists, lawyers and people from varied backgrounds. All volunteers are trained in wildlife monitoring techniques and get an overview on conservation advocacy policies. Ingrained with a commitment and passion to save wildlife, many of these individuals today remain strong defenders of wildlife, inspiring others in the process.