Tiger Watch Community Development Programs

Capacity Building

Over the years, Tiger Watch has long assisted in enhancing and augmenting the Ranthambhore Forest Department’s capacity to tackle many challenges. Whether providing innovative solutions to structural issues, procuring specialised equipment, or training to tackle particular problems, Tiger Watch is ideally placed to help the Forest Department overcome such challenges.

Erstwhile Endeavours

Over the years, Tiger Watch has long assisted in enhancing and augmenting the Ranthambhore Forest Department’s capacity to tackle many challenges. Whether providing innovative solutions to structural issues, procuring specialised equipment, or training to tackle particular problems, Tiger Watch is ideally placed to help the Forest Department overcome such challenges.

1. Designing and procuring rescue equipment for the Forest Department

Human-wildlife conflict is difficult to avoid and manage where the densities of humans and wildlife are high. When human lives and livelihoods are threatened, quick but practical solutions are necessary to alleviate conflict. After consultations with the Forest Department, Tiger Watch designed specialised rescue equipment such as cages, Y sticks, snake graspers, snake tongs, safe snake bags, various nets, ropes, crocodile grasper, monitor lizard rescue traps, etc.

Over the years, Tiger Watch has also provided the Forest Department with uniforms and high-quality handheld torches. In addition to all of the above, Tiger Watch conducts workshops for Forest Department Employees and educates them on the legal aspects of wildlife conservation. Such training has improved their understanding of specific issues and made them far more capable of dealing with them.

2. Forest Guard Uniforms

125 uniforms and footwear were distributed to the forest department staff as a token of appreciation for all their hard work and to encourage them to carry on their valiant and many times unsung efforts to save our Tigers. Ms Shefali Bajaj and Ms Sharmin Pathanky very kindly campaigned and raised money for Tiger Watch to help purchase the uniforms. They raised INR 4.5 lac for this Tiger Watch project. The project was envisaged by Fateh Singhji’s dear friend then Chief Secretary of Rajasthan, Mr Salauddin Ahmed.

3. Wildlife Legal Procedures Workshop

From time to time the Tiger Watch has supported the forest department by bringing experts from various fields to work out fresh training models and refresh existing systems to educate forest staff to protect the region’s wildlife.

One such step was the Wildlife Legal Procedure Workshop held on 21st December 2011 at Ranthambhore. The objective of the workshop was to get members from the legal fraternity onto a single platform, which included the public prosecutor who defended the forest department, the criminal advocate who favoured the lawbreakers and the judge besides other dignitaries.

The target audiences for this workshop were the forest officials (forest guards, foresters and rangers) who might be working hard to protect the forest but have not been sensitized enough on all the nitty-gritty of managing the legal aspects once the criminal is arrested. Sometimes these people working for the forest become hapless victims of the lawbreakers accusing them of unnecessary arrests. The workshop was carefully designed keeping in mind all the varied issues a forest official should look into before, in course of and after an arrest. Adv. Ms Padmini Rathore designed the course material for sharing amongst the participants while Fateh Public School provided the venue. A total of 44 forest guards, foresters and range officers participated in the workshop.

Local Community Development

Tiger Watch has also run programs with the explicit aim of creating more awareness of the natural heritage of the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve and the challenges that plague the landscape. While the programs were always oriented towards sensitizing local communities, the advent of the Village Wildlife Volunteers and other localized interventions like the Bagh Mitra Tiger Conservation Awareness Program also allowed a more direct connection to local communities to emerge. It allowed the process to be led by local communities.

Erstwhile Endeavours

1. Ranthambhore Grammin Vanyajeev Sammelan (10-day intensive awareness program)

The Ranthambhore Gramin Vanya-Jeev Sammelan started on June 5th, 2017, and continued until June 14th, 2017. This workshop was planned to sensitize the local community to Ranthambhore’s natural heritage and increase their trust in the Village Wildlife Volunteer program, strengthening the network and accelerating the flow of information.

Objectives

  • To promote active and direct participation of local communities in conservation.
  • To make the local community aware of the importance of the natural heritage of Ranthambhore.
  • To nurture a support group for the Village Wildlife Volunteers comprising of members from local communities.
  • To expand & strengthen the network of Village Wildlife Volunteers in the local community and accelerate the flow of information.
  • To celebrate the peace and harmony between local communities and wildlife.

 The selection of individuals was by the Village Wildlife Volunteers themselves, every volunteer selected 5 individuals from the local communities of their area; the selection was done in a way that each volunteer had to select 1 individual from his village and the other 4 were selected from two distinct villages (two from each village), so that there were individuals from 3 different villages and they were undergoing a formal registration to ensure his/her consent. Through this, a total of 169 individuals from 90 different villages were enlightened and made aware of their own Tiger Reserve and its natural heritage.

The Ranthambhore Gramin Vanya-Jeev Sammelan embarked on World Environment Day, instigating a common theme- “Connecting people to nature”. The customary ideology of “community for conservation” was put out by the numerous personalities present- Mr Y.K. Sahu (former CCF & Field Director), Mr Valmik Thapar, Mr Balendu Singh, Mr Goverdhan Singh Rathore, the then newly appointed DFOs of Ranthambhore and Kailadevi division, Mr Biju Joy and Mr Kapil Chandrawal along with several officials of Forest Department- Mr Daulat Singh (ACF retd.), Mr Sandeep Sharma (ACF), Mr Sandeep Kumar (ACF) etc. and 25 Village Wildlife Volunteers. The event took place in the Old Sevika Hospital, Sherpur, Sawai Madhopur; in collaboration with the Ranthambhore Forest Department.

By the overall response of the villagers who visited during the 10 day sammelan, representing 90 different villages, it could be concluded that the objective of organizing this sammelan was successfully met. The biggest concern of the villagers – the matter of cattle compensation, was well handled, and all the complications were mitigated as the process has now been simplified and the amount is doubled. The villagers who were previously unsupportive before the Sammelan, became sensitive to the issues of Forest management and pledged to promote peaceful co-existence of humans & wildlife.

 Outcomes

The Ranthambhore Gramin Vanya Jeev Sammelan was held as an initiative to establish active communication between the Forest department and local communities. It was successfully commenced under humble guidance provided by Forest officials who attended the sammelan daily to convince around 169 individuals belonging to 90 different villages to participate in and support conservation measures. This Sammelan also helped the Forest dept. seek out  the problems which villagers experience on a daily basis while residing in and around forest areas. The Ranthambhore Gramin Vanya Jeev Sammelan also became a platform for the villagers to interact with the forest officials and express their grievances directly.

2. Ganthjoda: Grahani Sehyog Shivirs

A 2 day rendezvous was organised by Tiger Watch Ranthambhore and Dhonk Craft under the guidance of the former CCF Ranthambhore, Mr. YK Sahu. The mission was to sensitize, include & empower the wives of our Village Wildlife Volunteers (VWV). The first step was to make them feel proud of their husbands (the Village Wildlife Volunteers) for the role they play in wildlife conservation in and around the Greater Ranthambhore Landscape. All in all, 15 Village Wildlife Volunteer couples participated in various sessions and activities focused on awareness. Orientation Day (5 Jan, 2018), commenced with a team introduction and a collective sharing of past experiences in the Village Wildlife Volunteer program through presentations and a feature film.

The next day began with a morning Safari to the Ranthambhore National Park Mr. Y.K. Sahu (former CCF & Field Director, Ranthambhore) and Mr. Rajendra Singh (Wildlife enthusiast) deserve a special mention for the enthusiasm with which they conducted this exposition! During the safari, Mr. Dharamsingh (Forest Guard), an excellent birder, guided the ladies through the natural heritage of Ranthambhore and how it is now an excellent model for Tiger Conservation all around the world. After returning from park, the attendees had breakfast at Dhonk and joined in the sessions which were: An Intro to the Village Wildlife Volunteer Program conducted by Ms. Meenu Dhakad (Programme Officer, Tiger Watch).

Ms. Prerna Aggarwal (Sociologist, RTCF) spoke about programs under the Van-Dhan yogna and other schemes run by the Rajasthan Government dovetailed under the Van-Dhan Yojana.

Ms. Divya Khandal (Director, Dhonk Craft) discussed a woman’s place in societal change and how crucial it is to be equal partners with their husbands in Tiger Conservation efforts. She also spoke about the various opportunities for women to develop crucial skills provided by organizations such as Dhonk Craft. The women were thrilled by the ‘handblock printing’ session courtesy Dhonk Craft which they witnessed for the first time. After the interactive sessions, everybody had lunch and moved onto some fun activities such as the ‘Tug of War’ which was held between the Village Wildlife Volunteers and their wives; the ‘Jalebi Jump Competition’ and finally the wives tied a Pagdi ( ceremonial turban) each on their husbands as a way of showing their respect and appreciation for their husbands hard work. The couples were honored with prizes and tokens of gratitude. Their wives responded enthusiastically to this seminal initiative and expressed a desire to participate in such activities more often. This was indeed a successful two-day camp.

3. Infrastructural Development in Bagh Mitra Schools

Before support provided by Dieter and Liz Gutmann and Petronet LNG Ltd.

The vision of the Rajasthan Head of Forest Forces Dr G.V. Reddy and Sh. Valmik Thapar was to provide basic infrastructure to 20 schools in villages (approximately three and a half thousand students) on the peripheries of Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve through the Bagh Mitra (literally translates to “Friends of the Tiger”) School Program. Select wildlife conservation-friendly literature in Hindi was also provided by publishing house Ektara India.

Training Visiting Student Groups

1. Wildlife Conservation Intensive Training Program

From February 25th to March 2nd, 2024, Tiger Watch, with the support of the Prabha Khaitan Foundation and Rajiv Gandhi Regional Museum of Natural History, organised a week-long wildlife conservation intensive training program for 30 Rajasthan students enrolled in colleges and universities, independent researchers, and scholars working in Rajasthan.

The primary objective of this program was to raise awareness about the significance of wildlife conservation and its profound impact on ecosystems and to provide deserving students the quintessential field exposure. The program exposed select youth participants to skills necessary for individuals pursuing the conservation of wildlife and facilitated their establishing networks with trailblazers in the field. Furthermore, the program instilled a strong sense of responsibility and dedication towards the protection and preservation of wildlife.

2. Sustainable Environment Internship Program

From May 21st to May 25th 2024, a group of 13 students from the Jaipur chapter of Students for Development visited for a special training program focusing on the fundamentals of wildlife conservation with a particular emphasis on the mitigation of human-wildlife conflict.

The program was hands-on and introduced the participants to the history of wildlife conservation in India, how Tiger Watch programs operate in the field in the Ranthambhore landscape, interactions with reformed poachers and local community members, as well as the management of snakebites, a problem of considerable magnitude.

Address: Maa Farm,
Ranthambhore Road, Post Khilchipur,
District Sawai Madhopur,
322 001, Rajasthan,
INDIA

(+91) 90015 07777