Monday, August 22, 2011

Protection Staff Workshop, 2011

After several weeks of planning, the workshop for Protection staff of Hosur Forest Division was held on 11th and 12th August 2011.

We reached Anchetty FRH on 10th evening along with Mr. Praveen Bhargav, and Mr. KM Chinnappa . After making arrangements for dinner, the rest of the evening was spent in listening to various incidents from Mr. Chinnappa's vast experience.

The next morning we left for Rasimanal for the first batch training along with Sanjeev, Ananth and Aparna who joined us at Anchetty FRH reaching a few minutes before the scheduled start time of 9 a.m. However, hardly any of the participants had arrived and they all trooped in gradually and changed into their uniforms and the workshop began at around 10.30 a.m..

The morning session focussed on the importance of wearing the Khaki uniform, the duties of the staff, various methods to implement protection measures, moral conscience, importance of protecting forests, the critical role that the staff play in ensuring a sustainable life for future generations, multi-tiered protection system comprising of foot patrol + mobile patrol + Anti-poaching camps + check-posts, patrolling methods, maintaining healthy and fit lifestyle etc. Mr. Chinnappa gave several examples from his own experience in dealing with poachers, mobs, 'influential people' etc.

After lunch, Mr. Praveen Bhargav spoke about some of the key provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act and how the staff should use them. A demonstration on usage of weapons and their maintenance was given. Real-life situations, when staff have to use weapons in the dark, were enacted by blindfolding them and asking them to pick the correct weapon from the lot, pick the appropriate ammunition, check if the weapon is loaded or not, remove the magazine and load cartridges etc.

The workshop ended with a fervent appeal by Mr. Chinnappa to all the participants to do their job sincerely and protect the forests so that the next time he visits Melagiri, it will be thriving with wildlife. He also extended an invitation to all the participants to visit Nagarhole NP so that he could show that how a forest can be restored from the brink of destruction and also give training in field-craft.

After the workshop got over, ACF Madhu escorted us to Hogenekkal falls since Mr. Chinnappa had heard of this but had never seen them. Returned to the FRH after that and after a early dinner, we retired for the day. George joined us late that night at 11 p.m., completely drenched!

12th morning, though the program for the 2nd batch was supposed to begin at 9 a.m., was delayed by by the forest department staff. After confirming the timings with the Urigam Ranger, we reached Uganiyam at around 10.15 a.m. and began the session.

It was conducted on similar lines as the previous day. The only difference was that this set of participants seemed a little more aware of the WPA, were better able to handle the weapons and the sessions were more interactive.

Towards the end, ACF Madhu spoke from his experience and related couple of incidents to motivate the participants. Sanjeev gave the vote of thanks and handed over souvenirs to Mr. Praveen Bhargav and Mr. Chinnappa.

Handouts were given to all the participants containing important provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, Gun Safety guidelines. A copy of English & Tamil versions of 'The Truth About Tigers' DVD was also given to the participants, courtesy Mr. Shekhar Dattatri.

- Some of the staff from the 1st batch need training in weapon handling
- APCs are under-staffed and probably under-equipped also
- Checkpost is manned irregularly, probably only when some FD official is visiting.
- Watch towers do not have any watchers, including the new one just before Gerhatti

11th August 2011:
Hosur, Rayakottai and Krishnagiri Ranges. 45 guards/watchers/foresters. Officers: ACF M. Anandakumar, ACF A. Madhu, ACF Padma, RFO Vishwanathan (Anchetty)

12th August 2011:
Denkanokottai, Jowlagiri, Anchetty and Urigam Ranges. 35 guards/watchers/foresters. Officers: ACF M. Anandakumar, ACF A. Madhu, RFO Vishwanathan (Anchetty), RFO Ramachandran (Denkanikottai), RFO Soligounder (Jowlagiri and additional charge of Urigam)

Laxmeesha Acharya

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Camera Trapping Project

Kenneth Anderson Nature Society (KANS) started the Camera Trapping project in May 2011 with the primary aim of documenting the biodiversity in Melagiri by getting photographic evidences. As the animals in Melgiri are extremely timid and shy due to human interferences, KANS decided that the best way to get photographs was to deploy camera traps at different locations in the field. Camera traps are silent and effective as they detect motion and body heat to take photographs automatically.

A camera trap deployed in the field
The camera trapping project is undertaken to support the vision of KANS, that is, conservation of Melagiri and its wild denizens. Conservation cannot work if we don’t know what we are trying to conserve. This project is aimed at understanding and filling that gap.

The purpose of the camera trapping project can be broadly classified into primary and sub-objectives.

Primary objective:
  • To obtain photographic evidences of fauna in various ranges of Melagiri.

  • To capture movement of cattle in the forest.

  • To identify human disturbances such as vehicular movement, movement of people along forest trails/tracks etc.

Method of deployment:
A suitable range is selected based on claims of animal activity. The traps are then placed in a selected beat within the range based on direct or indirect evidences.

As of now KANS has deployed three camera traps in the field. These have been successful in getting photographs of leopard, small indian civet, palm civet, sambar deer, elephant, wild boar, spotted deer, jungle cat, porcupine and a few birds.

A few camera trapped denizens of Melagiri
This is an ongoing project and if you are interested in participating or getting any other details, please get in touch with me(Arun) at

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