Keeping The Wildlife, Wild Forever

Wildlife Trust of India, India

Shreya Mehta on June 21, 2018 in Animal Welfare

About thirty years ago in South Delhi, a three-member team vowed to fight for a mission, i.e. to conserve wildlife and its habitat. Since then the team has grown to over 150 members and is known today as the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). The mission of the organization is to secure the natural heritage of India, the ‘wildlife’ and also to work for the welfare of wild animals with the support of communities prevailing in the area and various private and government organizations who are keen to support the cause.

Almost 80% of donations that are made to the organization, directly impact the concerned animals. Over 16000 people compose the staff of the WTI staffing who work in nine goal-oriented teams of the organization. All their work is carried out as part of these nine teams, also known as the ‘Nine Priorities’, i.e. Wild Aid, Enforcement and Law, Green Livelihoods, Species Recovery, Protected Area Recovery, Wild Rescue, Conflict Mitigation, Natural Heritage Campaigns and Wild Lands.  More than 20000 frontline staff are also employed by the WTI with the goal to secure all movements and measures that are taken to protect the animals.

As part of Wild Aid, the aim is to provide 500 short-term and innovative aids to some very common problems that are faced as part of wild life protection. The Enforcement and Law department focuses primarily to combat wild life trafficking and the litigation that it requires. They strive to bring down the rate of poaching and trade of various wild species.

The very creative team of Green Livelihoods is focused to work with communities living in or near the habitat of various wild species by providing them ecologically appropriate livelihoods and improving people’s participation in conserving wildlife. The Species Recovery team aims to recover populations of endangered species by carrying out various activities. Another related team is the Protected Area Recovery team that tries to carry out measures aimed at improving the functionality of 6 protected areas (PA) and reinstating their ecological integrity.

The most active team that is always on the move, travelling to various sites when animals are in distress is the Wildlife Rescue team. The team strives to rescue animals in agony from various hostile locations and to rehabilitate them to their natural habitats. Many a times after the rescue is made, animals need medical treatment before being rehabilitated. This is also taken care of by the team. Latest technology is made use of, in the entire process. By their admirable efforts, over 5000 lives have been saved is just this decade alone. Training is provided to all the volunteers on a regular basis so as to provide them with the latest information of medicines, relief and rescue operations.

The Conflict Mitigation team deals with policy design and implementation. The primary objective of the team is to “demonstrate seven models of Human Wildlife Conflict reduction” with the motive to “catalyse appropriate changes in policy”. The Natural Heritage Campaigns team handles all the campaigns which strive to create a very positive impact in people’s mind and change their faulty perceptions about wild animals. Finally, to secure the critical habitats outside the PA system (particularly the grasslands, wetlands, bird areas, groves), the Wild Lands aims to increase the “effective protective area of India by 1 %”.

Various movements and campaigns have led the WTI to arise as a prime NGO in the field of wildlife conservation. In 2014 as a tribute to the heritage animal of India ‘the elephant’, villagers in Meghalaya’s Garo Hills arranged and gave up a part of their community owned land to create a reserve for elephants. To commemorate the same, the Gaj Yatra campaign was launched on the 28th of May 2018 from the Garo Hills, where harmony exists between humans and animals. The Campaign was seen as a symbol to secure 100 elephant corridors across India.

Another conservation project that is being implemented in 10 districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh is the Sarus Crane Conservation Project in association with the Tata Trust and UP Forest Department. Local volunteers (also called the ‘Sarus Mitra’-the friends of the Sarus) along with the community have vowed to conserve the world’s tallest flying bird and the wetlands they live in. The volunteers educate the people by telling them that it is important to conserve and protect the Sarus bird as it is in their own interest. Along with pursuing a good task, the farmers are also helping themselves- as these birds tend to keep an eye out for the poachers and protect the farmers produce when in the fields. Recently ‘Prakriti Ratna’ was provided to the project for the progress it has shown in increasing the number of Sarus birds in the area.

Other than the campaigns that are conducted, various Rapid Response Teams have been formed and trained to combat emergencies in prone areas. The goal is simply to rescue the animal from its crisis and to treat it effectively. After it, the animal is sent back to the wild, into its natural habitat.

Recently two such teams were prepared in Uttar Pradesh near the Dudhwa National Park and the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve where there has been a very high increase noted in the number of incursions by leopards and tigers respectively, into spaces with human population. On examination the prime reason for the same can be accounted this-a long time ago before human settlement encroached these lands, it was entirely their natural habitat. Many leopards are now as a result found trapped in pits, houses or in abandoned factories and each of these has been attended to with the support of the frontline forest staff.

Several such attempts are made on a day to day basis and many long-term projects are also underway to map key inhabitants and work with local communities to create green livelihood opportunities for people living in the vicinity of wildlife. Various books and pamphlets are also published by the organization with the goal to inform all about the current situation at hand and how to address it.

The organization has taken the task upon itself to inform humanity to look at animals not as ferocious beast that kills humans without provocation. Mr. Vivek Menon, the Executive Trustee of WTI writes in his book and also informs us that that we need to understand that there are “no walls between humans and the elephants except those that we put up ourselves, and that until we allow not only elephants, but all living creatures their place in the sun, we can never be whole ourselves.”

To read more about the inspirational work they are doing, visit Wildlife Trust of India today!

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