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Tiger Watch: Ranthambore Tiger Conservation Anti-Poaching Efforts and Affected Community Rehabilitation.

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Presentation on theme: "Tiger Watch: Ranthambore Tiger Conservation Anti-Poaching Efforts and Affected Community Rehabilitation."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tiger Watch: Ranthambore Tiger Conservation Anti-Poaching Efforts and Affected Community Rehabilitation

2 Background At the turn of the 19 th century there were 45000 tigers in India. First ever all India census in 1972 showed only ~1800 tigers. “Project Tiger” was launched by Indian Govt. in 1973 with the aims of –Elimination of all forms of human exploitation and biotic disturbance from the core area and rationalization of activities in the buffer zone. –Restricting the habitat management only to repair the damages done to the eco-system by human and other interferences so as to facilitate recovery of the eco-system to its natural state. –Monitoring the faunal and floral changes over time and carrying out research about wildlife.

3 Background It has achieved some objectives, including some preservation of habitat. However, poaching has pretty much undone all the habitat conservation efforts. The Indian govt. estimates of tiger populations are bloated, since officials are afraid of losing their jobs. Very well known tiger conservationists, including Valmik Thapar have called Project Tiger a failure. –Poaching has been named one major cause of failures of the project, among other issues.

4 Why do we care Tigers are at the top of the ecosystem chain as the top predators. The entire ecosystem health is predicated on the health of the tiger population If tigers die out, herbivores will overpopulate and denude vegetation leading to cascading detrimental environmental effects.

5 Background India has 38 tiger reserves, most of which face severe threats from poaching. In the last 4 years, Sariska has lost all its tigers and Ranthambore has lost about 24 (out of a claim of 47) In 2008, two tigers were re-introduced into Sariska to try and revive the population Habitat loss is no longer the #1 problem for tigers: while habitat loss is being tackled by conservations, researchers and other institutions, poaching is not being tackled. Two government agencies are assigned to anti- poaching: Forest Dept and Police; the police are overburdened with criminal cases and the Forest Dept is not trained for anti-poaching.

6 Ranthambore TP Was considered to be the success story of “Project Tiger” led by Fateh Singh Rathore Ranthambore was one of the most popular tourist destinations in India for both history and wildlife. Tiger populations apparently soared until the late 1980’s, when Rathore was transferred from his position. Subsequently, there was a crash in tiger population due to poaching. Also, locals were being affected by the conservation boundaries and politicians were promising them access to conserved spaces. Realizing the need for an independent non-govt effort, “Tiger Watch” was instituted as an NGO by Rathore and other conservationists.

7 Mogya: Local community around Ranthambore Tribal hunters, traditionally hunting hares, boars etc for food. Today, many of them poach for money and target tigers and leopards. Their only skill – a keen jungle sense – can’t earn them a decent livelihood. The city-based poaching mafia can easily exploit these poor people to keep the wildlife trade going.

8 Mogya These people are semi nomads and secretive so they usually hide their identity. For the first time Tiger Watch through its antipoaching team has collected authentic data. Mogya’s are living in 13 villages out of the total 150 villages that encircle Ranthambore and Sawai Man Singh NP. A total of 483 Mogya’s are settled here in 112 families.

9 Mogya Most Mogya families survive below the poverty line. Generally Mogya men are involved in crimes and are often arrested or are absconding. In this era of globalization and consumerism, people are wishing to adopt new lifestyles. These traditional nomads are also keen on this new way of life. The Mogya youth want to buy motorcycles and mobile phones. But poor economic status and deep attachments to traditional life style are the basic reasons behind their involvement in this erroneous business. Poaching big cats and becoming regular suppliers of bush meat brings in the money for the luxuries in addition to providing for their basic needs. Mogya’s are rarely settling in a social group, establishing their hutments sparsely in remote areas. Interestingly this community always makes their house in high elevation and off the road –so the law enforcement agency cannot easily approach them. This life style keeps them far off from the basic amenities like education, health care etc. Generally Mogya’s men are involving in crimes so they are often arrested or spend their life as fugitives.

10 Tiger Watch: Main Objectives The main objectives of Tiger Watch include – –Helping in the protection of the wildlife in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve and its adjoining areas. –Forming an efficient anti-poaching network. –Helping the Mogya’s find an alternative source of livelihood so that they can be encouraged to reform. –Helping the women in the Mogya community become self- sufficient. –Educating the children of the Mogya community. –Exploring biodiversity in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve and its surrounding areas. –Helping in capacity building of the forest department by providing them with various resources. –To continue acting as a pressure group (in alliance with the media) in the area to ensure long-term efforts in protecting the tiger.

11 Tiger Watch: Main activities

12 Proposals Anti-Poaching Proposal Vigilance - To keep a vigilance of any poaching activities around Ranthambhore. Documentation - Keep photographic and case documentation and records of individuals involved in poaching activity Informers - Select informers and keep them motivated. This is the most important division of the organization. The anti- poaching program works on the basis of the information coming from its informers. Some of the informers are members of the Mogya community itself. Since Mogya community is an impenetrable community such insiders are very valuable source. The informer usually comes and goes as per the trend observed. Coordination with two executive raid agencies that is the police and the forest department for anti-poaching operations. Also, motivate and train them for the same.

13 Anti-Poaching Scheme

14 Anti-Poaching Work so far In 2004, Tiger Watch carried out a research activity in the Ranthambhore National Park and revealed a startling discovery of nearly 25 missing tigers around the same time when Sariska Tiger Reserve was declared zero- tigers situation. All these pushed the government to set up a “Tiger Task Force”. The tiger task force confirmed a figure of 26 tigers in Ranthambhore as compared to the overdrawn figure of 47 tigers. After the discovery of the missing tiger situation in 2004, Tiger Watch conducted an extensive Anti-poaching campaign. In this, it was revealed that the main culprits for the missing tigers were the Mogyas. Since its first operation in 2005, Tiger Watch has managed to get 47 poachers behind bars.

15 Budget for Anti-poaching Cell S.No.HeadMonthly (INR)Annually (INR) 1.Anti-poaching Coordinator30,000/-3,60,000/- 2.Permanent Informers 55000/- x 53,00,000/- 3.Information based reward10,000/-1,20,000/- 4.Fuel for four wheel and a bike 15,000/-1,80,000/- 5.Transportation of informers10,000/-1,20,000/- 6.Communication5,000/-60,000/- Total 11,40,000/- (25000$)

16 Project Tiger – Indian Govt Website IX PLAN ACHIEVEMENT OF PROJECT TIGER DIVISION During the VIII plan period the budget outlay for Project Tiger Scheme was Rs. 40.00 Crores. During the IX plan the budget outlay was substantially increased to rs. 75.00 Crores. During the IX Plan, Project Allowance to an extant of Rs. 3.95 Crores to field level staff was funded under this scheme for the first time. During this Plan period funds to an extant of Rs. 2.49 Crores has been released for creation of Strike Force to combat the growing insurgency and extremist situations within the Tiger Reserves. During the Plan period four new Tiger Reserves were declared, namely No.Tiger ReserveStateYear of FormationArea(sq. Kms.)Funds released 1BhadraKarnataka1998-99492318.459 2PenchMaharashtra1998-99257223.421 3Pakui-Nameri Arunachal Pradesh / Assam 1999-2000120693.100 4 Bori-Satpura Panchmarhi Madhya Pradesh1999-2000148675.220 3441710.200

17 Websites to check out 009/06/india-tigers/paul-kvinta-text. 009/06/india-tigers/paul-kvinta-text

18 Questions : Anti Poaching Project Would it be possible for the informers to become forest officials? This would give them an incentive? –The informers are of different age groups and different back grounds, some were criminals and some have had charges, while the government has a different way to recruit people. Hence it will be difficult to see them recruited in the forest dept. Can AID help in putting pressure on the government to appoint a good DFO in the area - through petitions or other action? –If we avoid going in this field and do the work it would be better as this has different kind of politics in it and we can get diverted from the main objectives. For how long has the anti-poaching work been ongoing? –Since february 2005

19 Is the anti-poaching co-ordinator a person from Tiger Watch or from the Mogya community? –From Tiger Watch, from Mogya community only informers come, thecoordinator deals with informer, police dept, forest dept and also court of law. The mogya community people do not have this capacity to deal with all the levels, hence they are resticted to giving information as informers... What is your current relationship with the Forest Dept and Police? Are they supportive and appreciative of your work? –Police is efficient and has executed our 70% raids, after which many have been awarded and the state police has even got the United Nation award, our relation with the police dept is fantastic.. As for forest, our is very professional relation, if they work we appreciate them and even have an award for the guards, but if not working we do come out and speak hence not all times its good with them but ours is a workable relation, if we feel that we can inform them about some happenings we do share and sometimes they do act as well... Is the problem that the forest officials don't care or that they are strapped for resources or don't know what to do? –FD has all resources from the private donors to the international organisations, but there are issues like they do have a developed network for such work, lack of interest and initiatives….declining age of dept people and lack of new blood...

20 Other questions Given the confidential nature of the anti-poaching work, would it be ok if we put up details about this project on our AID website? –What kind of details, if you send me some draft so i can tell u better. For what period of time would you need commitment for funding at one stretch? - One year? –At least 5 years as we get short commitments and we unable to then keep the programs started rolling due to fund shortage. Is there any funding from government programs for tiger conservation that you have tapped into in the past? Any plan for this in the future? If not, why? –We have not taken fund from government, but have sent a proposal to NTCA in regards to a tiger corridor research project which was demanded by NTCA themselves...

21 Do you have any involvement with Thapar's Ranthambore Foundation? –Thapar’s foundation was established with the help of our boss Fateh Singh Rathore also our sister society Prakritik society was helped a lot by Thappars foundation but we do not have direct involvement with them. Would it help if we are only able to fund a part of the budget? We could try to get more than one AID chapter involved, once we get all questions answered. –It depends entirely on you as to how and how much you support, ultimately it is for a cause and it is upto you...

22 Tiger Watch Site Visit

23 Site visit Site visit done by AID Austin volunteers Pragya and Nikhil on March 19, 20 th They visited the hostel for Mogya kids, Tiger Watch office, met with an informer and a poacher’s son. Their conclusions: –This project seems to be the only one of its kind in the area. No other NGOs or government officials addressing poaching by engaging the Mogyas. –As far as we could judge, the project is mainly being coordinated by one individual, Dharmendra. Even though he admits that tigers are not his main passion, he seems dedicated and motivated enough about this project to make it work. –They are heavily dependent on funds, and have asked for a long term commitment. –In the absence of any clear criteria to judge progress (apart from number of poachers caught or weapons seized) sustained support may be difficult, given AID’s volunteer based approach. –On the other hand, Tiger Watch seems to be well connected with other NGOs/funding agencies and with the press to be able to continue their work.

24 Mogya boys hostel The hostel houses 32 Mogya kids at the moment. They range from 9 years to 14-15 years of age. Even some of the poachers that Dharmendra Khandal (DK) has helped catch send their kids to this hostel. The facilities at the hostel are basic but adequate. A couple of rooms serve as dorms for the kids, another room for volunteers/guests, and one for the two wardens. A couple of women come every day to prepare lunch and dinner. The kids seem comfortable and happy being here. Many of them have siblings and cousins also staying here, and so feel at home. Mogyas seem happy to send their kids to school

25 Tiger Watch Office Spent some time at the Tiger Watch (TW) office speaking to DK about his work, past and present. DK showed some weapons, home-made lead bullets, foot-traps etc. they had confiscated during raids. He explained how the weapons were used. He mentioned the failures of the program –Guggal plantations –Handicrafts program wasn’t sustainable –Music performance group lead by an ex-poacher

26 Visit with informers Rendezvous point, our jeep in the distanceInformers informing DK had an informer on his payroll who had some information to share. Picked up the informer and his brother from the highway about 20km from Sawai Madhopur. Drove with them via a dirt-track into protected forest land. This was sufficiently far away to be able to talk without attracting attention.

27 Visit with Informers The informer and his brother knew about a man keeping weapons. DK didn’t want to pursue guns; it wasn’t enough to go on. It would be much more useful if they could catch someone keeping skins or other animal products. He then gave suggestions on other things they could do to get better information.

28 Informers home visit This was just 3-4 ramshackle huts, on encroached forest land, where this family has been living for the last 20-25 years. There were no other huts or signs of habitation to be seen anywhere. These people work as crop watchers/protectors for the farmers who live a few kilometers away. They have also hunted animals traditionally. The informer’s father, a frail old man, even boasted of having killed all the wolves in the area. According to the informers, apart from the Mogyas no other tribes were capable of hunting tigers, and if the Mogyas quit, tiger poaching would stop in Ranthambore!

29 Visit with poacher’s son Lodhya is a well-known poacher (also mentioned by the informers above), who has killed at least 4 tigers. The government is relocating several villages from the Tiger Reserve area and paying each family member Rs. 10 lakh as compensation. Lodhya’s village is one of the villages to be relocated. As soon as TW heard about this compensation package, they informed the forest guard and the authorities of Lodhya’s past record. The authorities as a result have held up the payment to Lodhya and his son, and are asking him to surrender. (More details about this story at delight-lodya-mogya.html) delight-lodya-mogya.html Lodhya, as many other poachers, knows of TW and DK, and so he sent his son and some friends to DK to seek help. My father is willing to surrender, assured the son, but he’s afraid of getting beaten up. DK promised to convince the authorities, but insisted that Lodhya surrender as soon as possible. Lodhya’s representatives were hesitant and unsure of how to proceed, so DK suggested that Lodhya should meet with him personally somewhere and they could discuss the process of surrendering. After much back and forth, and a few calls to Lodhya, they offered to meet in a few days. Lodhya needed time to think.

30 Answers of some of the questions that were posed during the site visit Is there government money allotted for tiger conservation? Have you tapped into that? Yes there is government allotted money, but this money is used for a lot of things within the forest department, including purchasing uniforms for the guards, tents, material etc. The money actually used for conservation is limited and what is there is not translating into real work on the ground. Moreover, the government likes to fund things that it can measure very easily. But how do you regularly measure progress in intelligence gathering work like we do? How do you judge the worth of an informer? There were instances when TW developed informers for many months before they got anything useful from them.

31 Present police and forest office isn’t trained in anti-poaching. Is there a way to get government to allot money to hire trained mogya men for anti-poaching? It’s not an issue of training. There are systemic problems with the forest department, and the whole department needs to be reformed. In the past 20 years, no new forest guards have been actively recruited. T he average age of forest guards is 50. How do you expect these people to run after a poacher? There is no passion amongst the officers. They need young people who feel passionate about forests and wildlife. Moreover, the forest department is handling too many things. They just don’t have the bandwidth to tackle so many things simultaneously. The mogya men can be hired by the government for anti-poaching, but they have to go through a process. First they have to be made nature guides, then trackers, then slowly transition into such a role. They can perhaps then be given small areas of the park to protect, and so on. It has to be a process. But forest department is not capable of coordinating all this. Answers of some of the questions that were posed during the site visit

32 Is it possible to make a live tiger more valuable to the villagers so they have an incentive to protect the tiger? No, only those benefiting from tourism have an incentive to keep tigers alive. This is not the case for the Mogyas. Answers of some of the questions that were posed during the site visit

33 Can the project be sustainable? No, DK doesn’t see how it can be sustainable on its own. The only way that can happen is if it doesn’t need outside funds and doesn’t depend on one or two people to run. This is not their goal. What they want to do is create a model which they can hand over to the government to follow, and hope that it is replicated in other places as well. Answers of some of the questions that were posed during the site visit

34 Vote AID Austin approves Rs. 3,60,000 ($ 8000) for Tiger Watch Anti-Poaching project for 2010. Yes: 9 No Participation: 1 The vote is passed

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