(Update written by Sourabha Rao)
Our IFS training course, which is being held online this year, started today with over 50 IFS officers from across the country. Key figures from government institutions and organisations who were and have been involved in the voluntary relocation process, have been discussing various aspects of voluntary relocation and other issues such as human-wildlife conflict.
The virtual gathering was interactive with time dedicated to question-and-answer sessions at the end of each discussion. The day started with Ms. Prakriti Srivastava, our Country Director, welcoming the participants and walking them through the structure of the workshop and explaining the vision behind it. She explained how the voluntary relocation programme is a people-oriented effort, and how protecting wildlife and their natural habitats is an eventual consequence of it.
Ms. Srivastava’s introduction to the programme was followed by a session with Mr. Sanjai Mohan, PCCF & Chief Wildlife Warden, Karnataka, who was a part of our precious IFS training programmes, too. He discussed various aspects of man-animal conflict; how voluntary relocation of families from inside the protected areas to settlements outside them has helped them lead a better life; how officers can work towards better habitat improvement, weed eradication, grassland management among other topics.
The participants then introduced themselves and shared with us how they think this course will help them navigate the process of voluntary relocation in their landscapes.
Post lunch, Dr. Rajesh Gopal, IFS (Secretary General, Global Tiger Forum), who has been closely associated with Project Tiger in India for almost 35 years, who was the director of several tiger-rich reserves in Central India like Kanha and Bandhavgarh for over a decade, interacted with the participants of our IFS training course. He explained the prelude, rationale and process of voluntary relocation. Dr. Gopal also answered questions from the IFS officers, addressing various critical issues such as human-wildlife conflict, complexities of voluntary relocation, and in situ conservation.
At the end of the session, the IFS officers left their comments and feedback, which will serve as a great impetus for us for the next four days! Watch this space for more updates this week!