GUWAHATI, March 16 - Help is forthcoming for the beleaguered tiger in what used to be one of its last strongholds, with experts from Awely-Wildlife and People, a global conservation body based in France, conducting a first-of-its-kind two-week training for the frontline staff of the Manas National Park.
The long-term goal of the venture is to double the number of tigers at Manas by the next 10 years.
The training, which concluded on March 12, was the first step towards the creation of a competent and dedicated pool of forest guards in Manas. Patrolling techniques apart, dealing with wildlife crime was among the components of the training. It was part of the Manas Tiger Conservation Programme (MTCP) launched by Aaranyak, jointly with Awely, Panthera, Wildlife Conservation Trust of India and BTC Forest Department.
At the end of the training, the teams had already patrolled 47 per cent of the total area of the Bhuyanpara Range. At the same time, using scientific tools, the patrol teams determined the areas of the park that showed greater signs of rhino and tiger activity; and also the areas that showed greater human disturbances.
The training on �Basic Patrolling Techniques� and �Data Management� for the forest staff of Manas was conducted at the Bhuyanpara Range. Sponsored by the Integrated Tiger Conservation Programme of IUCN, the event is also working closely with Bhutanese partners on a larger landscape called the Trans-boundary Manas Conservation Area (TraMCA).
�Manas has the potential to double its tiger population in 10 years and that motivates us to support capacity building of forest staff to ensure that the human imprint in the park is reduced through efficient patrolling. We thank our donor, IUCN-KfW and Panthera and other partners for supporting the event,� Dr M Firoz Ahmed, head, Tiger Research and Conservation Division, Aaranyak, told The Assam Tribune.
Site security experts Craig Fullstone and Rob Pickles led the training, with support from biologists Nile and Adam from Panthera, while Vishal Bansod from Wildlife Conservation Trust, India supervised the wildlife crime aspect. Twenty young men who work for the park under the Forest Department and the NGOs Manas Maozigendri Ecotourism Society, Manas Bhuyanpara Ecotourism Society and Manas Agrang Society, were selected for the training.
Preparing a group of young men on serious patrolling techniques, combat, first aid, animal attack, etc., involves a lot of active training.
�It has been a wonderful learning with new tools and techniques offered by the experts and we look forward to implementing the learning very soon,� Mrinmoy Hazarika, Forester, Manas National Park, said.
�The forest staff has learned a lot during the training and has covered a large area of the park, which is very satisfactory and we shall provide all necessary support to this team of forest guards to continue their improved patrol,� said HK Sarma, Field Director, Manas Tiger Reserve.