The first day of the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT)-supported workshop on tiger conservation in the Central Indian Landscape (CIL) has drawn to a close and the foundation for a long-term partnership between the Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh Forest Departments (MFD and MPFD respectively) is being formed.
The day began with Shri Shree Bhagwan, IFS, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Wildlife and Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW), MFD and Shri Ravi Srivastava, IFS, PCCF, Wildlife and CWW, MPFD inaugurating the consultation. Shri Shree Bhagwan spoke about how the MFD had been working with state police to apprehend poachers and tackle wildlife crime. He also discussed various issues surrounding the relocation of villages from designated tiger reserves and stressed the need for relocation packages to be designed in a manner that was fair to local communities. Shri Ravi Srivastava highlighted the various areas where states and NGOs could collaborate, including capacity-building for guards and strengthening protection infrastructure. The duo launched an initiative by WCT to distribute custom-made posters on wildlife law in Anti-poaching Camps in the country. Dr. Y.V. Jhala, noted tiger expert from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) spoke about the relationship between tiger ecology and the need for landscape-level management plans. He stressed the importance of protecting corridors.
Shri Subhoranjan Sen, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) and Field Director, Pench Tiger Reserve, MP and Shri Srinivas Reddy, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) and Field Director, Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra both presented on the Pench landscape. A lively discussion ensued with Shri Shree Bhagwan and several solutions and suggestions were shared. Both Field Directors emphasised the need to strengthen the exchange of information and collaborative patrolling between the two states to enable long-term viability of the Pench landscape not just the tiger reserves.
Later in the day, Shri S.S. Rawat, DFO, Khandwa spoke about Omkareshwar – a proposed Protected Area (PA) in MP. His presentation underscored the importance of securing little-known forests that displayed potential to support enigmatic species. Ms. Tillotama Verma, Additional Director, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) gave an impassioned presentation on the role the WCCB could play in helping state forest departments catch poachers. She urged the PCCFs of both states to send their officials to the WCCB for training in using online reporting systems on wildlife crime and explained how the data could be shared with agencies like INTERPOL to catch criminals when they left the country. Shri Sunil Agarwal, CCF, Shahadol, MP and Shri Anil Nagar, CCF and FD, Satpura Tiger Reserve, MP; presented two cases studies on developing the management plans for the Kanha-Pench corridor and the Satpura-Melghat corridor respectively.
During the last session, the WCT team presented their research findings from the statewide estimation of tigers outside PAs in Maharashtra and learnings from the Site Security Training conducted for Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) personnel from the Pench and Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserves in Maharashtra.
The discussions that took place today will feed into the sessions planned for December 22, 2015 where a roadmap for the CIL will be designed. The consultation is being supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the ‘WCT-USAID Tiger Matters’ project.