When humans and wildlife live alongside each other, there is bound to be some interaction between the two. Often, humans perceive such interactions as conflict, endangering the lives of both people and wildlife. WCT works closely with state forest departments to mitigate conflict and minimise losses caused on either side due to these interactions. WCT’s Human Wildlife Interface Management (HWIM) division trains forest staff in reducing damage during conflict situations and assists the forest department in devising long-term solutions.
WCT assists the forest department developing a human-tiger interface prediction module. This module uses spatial and temporal characteristics of previous interactions and helps the forest department in predicting potentially sensitive situations in the future.
WCT’s veterinarians assist the forest departments in:
- Tracking tigers inhabiting areas close to human settlements
- Tranquilizing large carnivores
- Monitoring radio-collared tigers and leopards
- Conducting post-mortems of deceased wildlife to ascertain the cause of death
Large carnivores, when in proximity of human dominated landscapes, attract considerable attention because of the perceived threat to human life. This often leads to removal of animals by the forest department or persecution of animals by local communities. WCT’s interventions under the HWIM project provide technical assistance to the forest department to understand and manage conflict on the ground and propose solutions which are favourable to both people and animals.
Dr. Prashant Deshmukh
Specially Designed Rescue Vehicles
WCT donates specially modified 4WD vehicles to parks to help officials rescue wild animals that have strayed into human habitation. Specially designed injury-proof carnivore trap cages have also been provided to over 20 Protected Areas.
Workshops on Firearm Maintenance
WCT collaborates with local NGOs to carry out periodic maintenance of firearms given to forest staff in various parks. Although forest officials have firearms to use in life-threatening situations, they are not taught how to maintain them. This leads to rust developing on the inside of the firearms, increasing the chances of them malfunctioning during an emergency.
WCT has helped design thermal imaging equipment called an e-Rescuer that helps forest officials detect wild animals during the night or in foggy conditions. Staff can use the device to track animals and plan their rescue operations, minimising the risk of injury to themselves.
Radio-telemetry is one of most widely used technologies for understanding the behaviour and ecology of wild animals. Its importance in the context of tiger conservation cannot be overstated. Being saturated, the core zones of several tiger reserves have no room for young tigers. As a result, a large majority of young disperse into less-protected forests via corridors.
WCT uses radio-telemetry to understand how dispersing tigers use their habitat to suggest and implement community interventions for mitigating conflict arising from the interaction between people and tigers. Some effective interventions include livelihood programmes to reduce dependence of people on forests and awareness drives to inform people about subtle behaviour changes needed to coexist with large carnivores.
Understanding the dispersal of tigers and leopards also helps us in devising training programmes for frontline forest staff. WCT assists the forest department in radio-collaring tigers that have been declared as dangerous to humans, so that, by closely monitoring their movements, we can provide unbiased evidence for or against these decisions.
To help tackle human-animal conflict, WCT has designed and donated Rapid Response Units (RRUs) to forest departments across India. Each RRU consists of a specially-modified 4WD vehicle, three motorcycles, injury-proof carnivore trap cage, blow-pipe, stretcher, GPS, digital camera, sleeping bags, torches, and several other items needed during an emergency.
Detailed List of Items Included in RRU
- Reinforcing Protection
- World Wildlife Day 2019 – Life below water
- One Health
- Conservation Strategy
- 22 amazing tiger facts – LetsTalkTigers
Header image © Nikhil Tamberkar