Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quarterly update: April, May, June and July 2010

As always all our teams in the field (Conservation Officers and Field Officers) have been hectically busy with a wide range of activities to preserve and improve the tiger landscape: water conservation, tree plantation, clean-up drives, fire-fighting, patrolling with forest officers, education of local communities, vocational training and employment for villagers to reduce their dependence on the forest.

Posting the whole quarterly report is not possible as there are more than a hundred snapshots and items. I'm posting just a few images and activities here to show the scope and range of our work. The names of our officers are listed at the end of the report. Kudos to all of them for their hard work and dedication.

I'll post separate updates soon on our Landscape Monitoring Unit and Melghat Eco-restoration project.

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

Above: At Dewada

Above: Firefighting at Adegaon

Our team in the Satpuda TR also helped put out a fire.

Pench Tiger Reserve - Firefighting at Sawra with villagers and Ranger:
We had asked Mr Kharabe, RFO (Territorial) Deolapar to participate in the inauguration of our sewing and embroidery training programme in Sawra. On his way to join us, he saw a fire in the forest around 2 kms from the village. He came to Sawra and asked for assistance. Around 10 school children, 2 adult villagers, teacher Manoj Mankar, Anoop Awasthi and Dilip Lanjewar responded. The whole team fought the fire for 1 1/2 hours. Mr Kharabe was so pleased with the response that he gave Rs 500 to the children. The team decided to purchase a volleyball and a
football for the children's use. Mr Kharabe also promised his assistance to any of our future programmes. He came back to the village and gave a talk on forests, the benefits of forests to villager and the need to protect them.

Satpuda TR: On April 19 a fire was started by villagers in the forest near Birjikhapa to facilitate their collection of mahua flowers. Our Conservation Officer Ashfaq was having lunch with the Deputy Ranger at Nayakheda when they saw smoke. Seven Forest Department staff and Ashfaq then rushed to the spot to fight the fire which, by then, had spread and was threatening to damage even the village. Some of the villagers also joined in the fire-fighting.

Because forest fires are such a menace in summer, we are working to educate villagers about the harmful effects of forest fires and the need to assist the Forest Department in containing them. We have conducted awareness programmes in 4 villages in April: Parraspani, Raikheda, Nandner and Dhargaon in the Matkuli cluster. In May we organized programmes in 11 villages to educate villagers about forest fires - how carelessness can cause fires, other reasons for fires, the harm caused to nature and wildlife as well as humans, and also how to fight fire. In 2 villages, Nayakheda and Birjikhapa, forest guards joined us in the programme.

Kanha NP: In April at a programme at Batwar, our team educated villagers about the many harmful effects of forest fires and the need to help the Forest Department in fighting them.

-->Anti-poaching patrols: Pench: Joined hands with Forest Department on anti-poaching patrols on several occasions. On May 1 and 20, our Field Assistant Bandu Uikey volunteered in patrols around waterholes in West Pench, with forest guards Munde and Rathore. On June 6 and 13, he joined patrols at Ghatpendari in checking waterholes for signs of poaching and poisoning, and to clean them of litter.
Water conservation

Above: Cleaning soak pit at Adegaon, Tadoba-Andhari TR, May 2010

Above: Cleaning waterhole at Sitarapeth, TATR, June

Above: Cleaning soak pit at Kondegaon, TATR, July

Above: Constructing waterhole at Khamma, Pench TR, May

Above: Soak pit at Turia, Pench, June

Above: Shramdaan/voluntary work at Ghoti, Pench, June. Creating a waterhole.

Above: Waterhole at Chapri, Kanha National Park, May

Above: Cleaning waterhole at Chapri, Kanha NP, May

Seed banks and tree plantation

Above, below: Seed collection, Pench, June

Above: Seed collection at Dewada, TATR, June

Above: Free distribution of seeds at Chapri, Kanha NP, June. Ajeewika (an MP government agency set up for rural livelihood development) and the Agriculture Department, invited SF to distribute free seeds to poor farmers in Chapri where our centre is located. The seeds are corn, rice and tur.

Above: Digging pit for plantation at Patpara, Kanha NP, June

Above: Plantation preparation at Ghatpendri, Pench, June

Above: Digging pits for plantation at Adegaon, TATR, July

Above: Plantation at Turia, Pench June

Above: Plantation at Ghatpendri, Pench, July

Above: Distribution of saplings at Chapri, Kanha NP, July. Under an Ajeewika scheme, villagers are given Rs 2 to dig one pit and Re 1 to plant one sapling.

Above: Plantation at Chapri, Kanha NP, July

Above: Sapling distribution at Bindakheda, Satpuda TR, July

Above: Tree plantation by D P Tiwari, Biodiversity Board, at Matkuli, Satpuda TR, July

Rainwater harvesting

Ajeewika has launched a programme to harvest rainwater in all the 10 villages that we work in in Kanha. The work of monitoring progress and follow-up has been entrusted to us. Work on rainwater structures is going on in the schools in all our villages, and four have been completed.

Vocational training

Driving - course funded by Hemendra Kothari Foundation, at Moharli, Tadoba-Andhari TR


Above: Malvi, at Matkuli, Bori-Satpuda TR, with her sewing machine. She was trained in sewing through SF.

Above: The sewing group at Sawra, Pench, that was trained through Pratham's skill centre facilitated by SF. Here they are displaying re-usable shopping bags they've made after the course. The bags will be available for sale in Mumbai (through the Mumbai-based volunteers) and one or two other cities when they are ready.

Mobile Health Unit

Pench - medical camps in 24 villages, 694 villagers treated

Above: Setting up the Mobile Health camp at Narhar, Pench, July

Above: MHU at Turiya, Pench TR, May

Above: MHU at Dewada, Tadoba-Andhari TR, June

Above: MHU at Jamni, Tadoba-Andhari TR, May

Above: MHU at Palasgaon, Tadoba-Andhari TR, July

Above: MHU at Wanera, Pench TR, July - Conservation Officer Anoop Awasthi and a volunteer dispense medicines from the ambulance

Above: Forest guard Mr Wadke with our MHU team at Piparheti, Tadoba-Andhari TR, June

Clean-up drives

Above: Anti-plastic campaign at Bhamdeli, Tadoba-Andhari TR, May. Anti-plastic drives were conducted in 3 villages.


Forest officials in the buffer area villages around Kanha NP have recently introduced a scheme for setting up vermi-compost units in villages. Mr Solanki, RFO Khatiya, asked SF Conservation Officer Amit Awasthi to assist in spreading awareness about this scheme in our project villages.

Above: Awareness programme on vermi-composting at Manegaon, Kanha NP, May

Above: Compost pit being dug at Chapri, Kanha NP, July

Above: Compost pit at Sauthiya, Kanha NP, July

Nature education

Above: Nature trail at Chapri, Kanha, June.
There have been several nature and birding trails organized by our Tadoba Conservation Officer Bandu Kumare as well. Bandu was a Park guide earlier and uses his knowledge to enthuse young people about the biodiversity of the region.

Above: Nature game at Sitarampeth, Tadoba-Andhari TR, July

Above: Awareness programme on tree plantation at Matkuli, Bori-Satpuda TR

Above: Environment education at Aamajhari, Pench, July

Above: Rally on conservation at Chapri, Kanha NP, July

Above: Environment education programme, Dewada, Tadoba-Andhari, July

Above: Film show, Kondegaon, Tadoba-Andhari, July

Water pots for birds

Above: SF team making water pots for birds, Nayakheda, Satuda TR, May

Above: Self-Help Group at Nayakheda putting up water pots for birds, Satpuda TR, May. Water pots were placed for birds in 14 villages.

Above: Children putting up water pots for birds at Khamna, Pench, May

Pench: Education van programme in 7 villages, attended by 292 people

Clothes distribution

Above: Clothes distribution at Ghoti after voluntary work (shramdaan) - Pench, June. Under our clothes-for-work scheme, garments are not handed out indiscriminately but are distributed only after villagers have done some conservation work for the community.

Some of the young villagers who have found good jobs through our Employment Cell.

Above: Placement of Ramdayal at Maheshwari Resort, Chapri, Kanha, May

Above: Placement of Harichand at Maheshwari Resort, Chapri, Kanha, May

Above: Placement of Choubhelal at Maheshwari Resort, Chapri, Kanha, May

Above: Abhiman Choukey of Sitarampeth (Tadoba) placed with Economic Explosives, Nagpur, May

Above: Conservation Officer (Tadoba-Andhari TR) Bandu Kumare interacting with youths in Dewada about placement and ITI courses, May

Above: Placement of Devsingh Sayyam at Chapri, Kanha, June

Above: Placement of Ashok Uikey at a resort, Kanha, July

Above: Placement of Nathulal Maravi of Chapri at Tigerwoods resort, Kanha, July


Above: Function to celebrate International Biodiversity Day at Nayakheda, Bori-Satpuda TR, May

Above: Distributing certificates to successful candidates of four-wheeler training programme funded by Hemendra Kothari Foundation, Moharli, Tadoba-Andhari TR, May

Above: Dignitaries address villagers at Nayakheda on World Environment Day, Bori-Satpuda, June. The programme was funded by the MP Biodiversity Board which in turn had received funds from UNDP for celebrating this day in different places in the state. SF Conservation Officer Ashfaq Arbi, Mr Abdullah Khan (Ranger, Matkuli), Ms Aarti Arjun Palliya (President, Janpath Panchayat, Pipariya), Mr Uday Raj Singh (CEO, Janpath Panchayat, Piparaya), Mr Azhar Siddique (Dy Ranger, Jhiriya) addressed about 180 villagers from Nayakheda, Dhargaon, Anjandana, Nandkot, Mongra and Naikheda. The speakers talked about nature and biodiversity, the need for conservation and also plantation of saplings.

Above: Awareness on plantation and better farming techniques, at Manegaon, Kanha. We conducted programmes in 6 villages in partnership with Ajeewika, an MP government agency set up for rural livelihood development. The programmes taught farmers how to select appropriate seeds, preparing soil and fields for farming, and techniques of transplanting saplings. In the picture above, Mr S P Jain, SDO, Forest Department, speaks to the villagers.

Above: Conservation Officer Amit Awasthi giving information on better farming techniques at Kuthwahi, Kanha - June

Above: Biodiversity workshop at Ashramshala at Matkuli, Bori-Satpuda, July

Above: Certificate distribution through CEDMAP, Bhopal, to womens' Self-Help Group at Ec0-centre, Matkuli, Bori-Satpuda, July

Pench: Mowgli Utsav 2010 in Turiya:

Every year, the MP Government organizes a festival for school children called "Mowgli Utsav" to spread awareness about wildlife and nature. Children and school children are selected from each Zillah of MP to participate in the 3-day programme. On April 9 our Conservation Officer Anoop Awasthi led the participating school children to the village Aamajhari to show them our activities and also to explain about village life and their link to the surrounding bio-diversity. Aamajhari is around 5 km from the Turia entry gate of the Pench Tiger Reserve. The children were also told about the benefits villagers gained from their proximity to the National Park, as well as the impact that humans had on the fragile eco-system. On April 10 we organized a play by the Sawra school children to convey the message that forests are the key to our water supply. The play, staged by 12 children under the guidance of one teacher, was well-received by the audience.
Ramtek MLA Ashish Jaiswal visited Sawra and saw the school and the sewing training.
Work at Kanha Community Resource Centre:
This CRC is on the model of the NCSA Community Resource Centre at Muthawa, Melghat TR. The shed housing for the gypsy and the kitchen have been repaired. Next to the mahua tree our team have dug a waterhole which is being used by chital, wild boar and birds. The fields were dug in June and ploughed in preparation for farming, and seeds have been purchased. A compost pit has been has been dug to generate organic fertilizer from organic waste at the Centre.
Follow-up on resettled village Bhagwanpur, Tadoba-Andhari: Our team has been making regular visits to this resettled village to check the progress of the community and their needs and requirements, and also to check progress of work on a bridge on the Bhagwanpur-Naghala Road. 11 wells have been sanctioned by the Panchayat Samiti. Villagers want a separate Gram Panchayat for their village instead of being attached to the Tolewahi GP. They feel a separate GP will make them eligible for funding and other benefits under tribal development schemes.
Rescue of chitals attacked by village dogs:
Kanha, May 14: SF Conservation Officer Amit Awasthi was at the village Mocha when he heard a commotion near the forest beat box. A chital fawn was being attacked by village dogs. Amit and some villagers chased away the dogs and carried the chital to the eco-centre at Khatiya. Unfortunately it died soon after.
Tadoba, May 31: SF's Bandu Kumare was at his home in Moharli when he heard the cries of an animal and the shouts of villagers. When he ran to investigate he found a chital being attacked by three village dogs, with villagers standing around watching and doing nothing to stop them. With the help of a village youth Sanjay Kulmete (also one of the driving course trainees), and 3 employees of TRACT as well as a forest guard and one forest labourer, he pursued the dogs for 5 km. Finally the dogs gave up the chase and the chital escaped to the jungle. Shockingly, the villagers were upset at the chital's escape and accused the rescuers of depriving them of some bushmeat. However an encouraging incident is that an 8 year old village boy joined the rescue effort, saying that the chital was a spirit of the forest and should not be harmed.
SF teams in the field:
Conservation Officer - Anoop Awasthi
Field Assistants - Bandu Uikey, Dilip Lanjewar, Niranjan Hinge
Field Assistant - Bandu Kumare
Satpuda Tiger Reserve:
Conservation Officer - Ashfaq Aarbi
Field Assistants - Vikram Parte, Umashankar Yadav
Conservation Officer - Amit Awasthi
Field Assistant - Sampatlal Dhurwe