Over the past 20 years large areas of land have been added to the protected area of a park in Central India. In order to ensure wide support for conservation and mitigate human-wildlife conflict it is crucial to closely monitor wildlife populations.
By conducting field surveys and collecting data using observations and camera-traps you can help map movement patterns and keep track of population densities. Your data on water-bird breeding along the banks of the reserve’s rivers might allow authorities to negotiate appropriate fishing locations and times with traditional fishermen. Your camera-trap data might confirm the presence of the smallest cat in the world, the rusty spotted cat, or the jungle cat, pangolin, or honey badger, and other wildlife in unexplored areas, which could warrant further action as well as attract further beneficial international attention for the area.
Your work restoring the local habitat will also help in making the environment more conducive to the animals living in the park. As you live and work among the families you can use the time you are not looking for wildlife to increase support for wildlife protection initiatives through formal and informal environmental education and livelihood programmes.
Rewilding efforts made to restore the land to its former glory of prime animal habitat have been very successful. Within a few years large fauna were spotted throughout. Former village sites are now grasslands supporting high densities of deer and antelope ensuring sufficient prey for larger cats such as the leopard and tiger. Even a tigress was found raising her cubs in the forests only a few years after establishment. Sloth bear, locally called bhālu, also hugely enjoy feasting on the mangoes and guavas growing on the trees surrounding relocated village sites.
The porous park boundaries, however, allow wildlife to roam outside the park. Groups of deer or wild boar can destroy a complete harvest in one night and some families fear that tigers might prey on their family cow. The indigenous people are also found of using the Mahua tree, which is considered holy by many tribal communities, for many purposes. Fruit and seeds are used for skin care, soap, vegetable butter, fuel oil and fertilizer, while and the flowers are used to produce an alcoholic drink. Sloth bear are also equally fond of the Mahua fruits, which is cause of serious human animal conflict throughout the area.
- Live in Madhya Pradesh, the heart of India, and witness generations of indigenous tribes’ experience, beliefs and traditions
- Witness the stunning diversity of Central Indian flora and fauna
- Experience a diverse landscape with sandstone peaks, level plains, narrow gorges, ravines and dense forests.
- Learn about challenges and solutions in forest and wildlife conservation.
- Experience the workings of community-based conservation in India first-hand.
- Contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goal #15, Life on Land and Goal #10, Economic Growth.
- Before moving on to visit the Taj Mahal, the Ganges at Varanasi or exploring Rajahstan take some time to soak in the atmosphere in Bhopal, the City of Lakes, a bustling central Indian town with thousands of years of history.
My favourite moments were on the drives collecting data and observing the animals, improving my knowledge and understanding of the environment and working with young people who were committing time to help understand and improve the world in which they live. It was most reassuring to see young adults working together. The project gives one a more intimate knowledge of the environment and the animals, than it would seeing them as a tourist.