Village Wildlife Guardians Programme
Background: TOFTigers, together with Tigerwatch, started the Village Wildlife Guardians Programme in Ranthambhore in 2014. With the aim of assisting the local parks authorities in wildlife monitoring and providing assistance to the Forest Department, in particular in the forest villages adjacent to the famous Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, they set about recruiting and training 12 Village Wildlife Guardians.
The role of the Village Wildlife Guardian is to report to the local park authorities any suspicious movements or activities on the fringes of the park near their homes and farmlands. This could include potential poaching activities for both tigers and also other species such as wild boar, spotted and sambar deer.
A few individuals are also skilled trackers and can be used to track tigers that stray out of the park in search of food or new territory. They are the eyes and ears of the park authorities. They help secure the boundaries of the park, and their co-operation is invaluable for both wildlife and villagers alike.
The project: The initial project in Ranthambhore was deemed a success so in 2016 the project has been expanded to Kanha, where TOFTigers will be recruiting 6 Village Wildlife Guardians, and this is where The Tribes Foundation comes in. Together with TOFTigers we have provided funding for 6 Village Wildlife Guardians who will cover the villages near Samnapur, Khapa and Garhi.
Over the coming months we will get updates on the progress of training and share these with you.
Without your generous donations, The Tribes Foundation would not be able to assist in worthwhile projects such as this one so we, and all the projects we have been able to assist so far, thank you.
UPDATE – DECEMBER 2016
6 Village Wildlife Guardians (VWGs) have been selected and back in July 2016 they received their training before embarking on patrols. Whilst their primary task is working in the forest they also survey the local markets for illegal trade in wildlife and bush meats with positive results. They work closely with the forestry department and report regularly on their findings.
The project is proving successful and amongst their findings have been snares (most likely for hares and wild boar), a turtle poacher has been apprehended, 20 cases of illegal tree-felling have been reported.
The VWGs are also becoming involved in local projects relating to wildlife and conservation such as the weed eradication programme spearheaded by TCF and assisted in camera trapping for the Interim Relief Scheme (IRS) Programme to investigate a predator involved in livestock deaths.
Late November saw the Bike4Tigers fundraising team cycle the Pench Kanha corridor and they met the VWGs. The team are fundraising for the next two years to help support the Village Wildlife Guardians and to hopefully allow a greater number of villagers to be recruited to the programme and continue to educate and spread the word of conservation locally.
For more information on TOFTigers please visit http://toftigers.org