Tiger and prey monitoring
WCS-India has been involved in tiger monitoring in the Nallamala landscape sprawling 5,600 sq kms, including the Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR) in Andhra Pradesh and the Amrabad Tiger Reserve (ATR) in Telangana since 2012. We work in partnership with the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Forest Departments to ensure following of Phase IV protocols at both tiger reserves. WCS-India conducts staff training on ecological monitoring to help them understand the scientific protocols mandated by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). Additionally, we monitor dispersal of tigers and estimate prey densities in Kawal Tiger Reserve and its corridors in Northern Telangana. All tigers captured over the years have been assigned unique IDs and their minimum home ranges and dispersal patterns logged in a database.
Since 2016, we have started the first prey estimation in ATR forming a set of permanently marked line transects. This study design was extended to NSTR in 2019 and we continue to monitor tigers in both states.
rop protection and compensation: We work on crop protection and compensation with local villagers to address human-wildlife conflict in and around tiger corridors and protected areas. In addition to helping local villagers file for crop damage compensation, we have supported an innovator from Maharashtra who has developed a novel method of crop protection with car batteries. A wire connected to the battery is used as a fence to ensure animals attempting to raid crops are repelled without hurting them. Demonstrations to farmers and forest officials have led to the installation of over 300 such car batteries in the Kawal landscape.
Cattle kill compensation: Since cattle kills in the Kawal landscape have led to instances of retaliatory killing of tigers, WCS-India works to ensure farmers receive rapid cattle kill compensation. Apart from helping to frame policy for the speedy disposal of cattle kill compensation, we spread awareness and provide posters on the policy to local communities.
Desnaring: WCS-India works to remove snares across the landscape, found mainly in fringe villages with interfaces with forests and places frequented by animals like waterholes, salt licks, etc. Our snare removal strategy, adopted by the Forest Department, has led to the removal of over 800 snares each year in and around tiger landscapes.
Monitoring of electric lines: Electric lines passing through forests are often used for hunting wildlife. WCS-India maps electric lines which pose a grave danger to wildlife and routinely monitors these to ensure no live wires are installed to hunt animals.
Poaching and hunting information: WCS-India has developed an informant network across tiger landscapes in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. We maintain a robust database of repeat offenders involved in wildlife related crimes, seek credible information about poaching and wildlife trade, and relay these to enforcement agencies.
Developmental Projects: We report development projects undertaken without mandatory government permissions to the Forest Department and support them to ensure the mandatory clearances are obtained. We work with State-level committees to ensure proper mitigation methods are deployed to reduce environmental damage. We offer guidance on proper safeguards for developmental projects which could otherwise be detrimental to wildlife conservation.
We have conducted occupancy surveys for tigers and other large mammals across the state of Andhra Pradesh, and initiated these in Telangana. We also record data on variables such as habitat condition and human disturbances. Statewide surveys help us set baselines on the presence of tigers and other prey animals in the entire potential tiger range at the state level.
Capacity building workshops
We have conducted 15 capacity building workshops, particularly in law enforcement, covering about 500 frontline staff in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. We helped in formulation of training module for WCS-India and have entered a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) with Telangana state forest department for continuing training in law enforcement. We have covered.
We partner with the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh forest departments and Telangana State Forest Academy to conduct regular training on ecological monitoring, including tiger and prey monitoring, and ecological methods.
WCS-India offers legal support and advice on wildlife cases to Telangana forest officials.
Forest officials are often attacked by people involved in nefarious activities. WCS-India’s initiative, “Defend the defenders” aims to provide legal, political and emotional help to forest staff when they are attacked or abused on duty. Under the initiative, we help in filing police complaints, approach senior government officials and draw media attention to these incidents.
We work to ensure that laws enacted for the security of people and their livelihoods are not misused for advancing personal or political agendas.
Policy level interventions
Human wildlife conflict: As a member of the Human-Wildlife Conflict Committee of Andhra Pradesh, WCS-India is responsible for carnivore conflict management. We provide updates on mitigation strategies and are formulating a state-level policy for conflict management.
WCS-India is also a part of various district level committees such as the District Relocation Committee, District Forest Protection Committee and the Environmental Appraisal Committee. At the state level, we are members of the Tiger Steering Board and State-level Relocation Committee.
Outreach and education
WCS-India aims to educate and mobilize the future generations towards conservation efforts. We work with about 10 schools in Hyderabad for an education programme on tigers, where we conduct talks, nature treks, form nature clubs and assign projects in schools with the aim of providing awareness and hands-on exposure to tiger conservation. In addition to this, we conduct nature trails and awareness programs for children at Kawal Tiger Reserve.
We believe in a participatory model of conservation undertaken in close involvement with local communities. We are currently piloting a forest conservation model driven entirely by communities with 7 villages in Kawal Tiger Reserve.
WCS-India carries out voluntary relocation activities in 12 villages across protected areas in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Strengthening protected areas
WCS-India is focused on increasing the protected area network in AP and Telangana. In the past, we helped in the designation of the 2016 sq km landscape of Kawal a tiger reserve. We have also played a role in the addition of protected area cover to NSTR.