Update: Training Local People to Monitor Wildlife

Nepal, 2019

For the past several months, we have been in Nepal, working to catalyze a new community-conserved wildlife corridor for tigers, elephants, and other species.

Historically, tigers and elephants were distributed throughout the lowlands of Nepal. Until the 19th century, a dense lavish green forest called “Charkose Jhadi” connected the southern forests of Nepal to the forests in India. Now there is poor connectivity between the forests and protected areas of India and Nepal, which presents a major threat to wildlife conservation.

Our primary goal is to create a viable corridor from Chitwan National Park in central Nepal to the eastern border of Nepal, so that wildlife can travel freely.

Making the corridor a reality

Working across this large landscape is a challenge, but the steps themselves are simple:

  1. raising awareness of the corridor concept and wildlife conservation in southeastern Nepal, and asking community forest groups if they would like to participate
  2. building the capacity of these groups to monitor wildlife in their forests by conducting trainings
  3. creating a network of community forest groups who are coordinating wildlife management activities across the landscape

Meeting with Community Forest Groups

In this part of Nepal, local groups called “Community Forestry User Groups” work to manage and protect the forests they depend on for many resources, such as fuel wood and fodder.

At the end of May, our partners in Nepal met with ten of these groups who had expressed interest during our first trip to visit them. Happily, all ten groups have said that they want to be a part of the corridor and learn these wildlife monitoring skills.

Attendees at the first two trainings learned to identify signs of wildlife, set up camera traps, and use GPS.

The data the community forestry groups can collect would be extremely useful. Over time it will allow them to understand if wildlife in their forests is increasing or decreasing – information they need in order to make good wildlife management decisions.

Trainings are Underway

After meeting with the groups, we co-designed trainings for the people from the community forest groups to attend. Our partners in Nepal, Dr Dinesh Neupane, Dr. Arjun Thapa from SMCRF, and Birendra Mahato of Green Society Nepal, conducted two-day trainings with the community forest groups to introduce them to some basic wildlife monitoring techniques, including the use of camera traps.

See more photos of the training on Facebook

The trainings have been a success. Participants included community forest guards, women, and young adults from the community forest user groups.

Attendees learned:

  • Wildlife survey and monitoring
  • Wildlife sign tracking (scat, tracks, etc.)
  • Camera trap operation and setting
  • GPS handling and use
  • Safety measures
The trainees set up cameras in the field. A camera at the first training captured a photo of a jackal, and one from the second training captured a photo of a large Indian civet!

So far, participants are excited by the training and want to buy their own sets of camera traps for their forests.

Meanwhile, Executive Director Dr. April Sansom is working in the Andes mountains. We’ll be sharing an update from her trip soon.

Update: Community Trainings in Myanmar

February, 2019

Meeting inspiring people at the training on Field Trip Day

Myanmar is an incredibly biodiverse country, home to many endangered and threatened species.

It recently opened to the world, and many are rushing to have a say in the country’s newly established protected areas.

Now is a critical time to develop a national conservation strategy for Myanmar – and make sure local communities’ values and needs are incorporated into protected area management. We believe that local communities are the solution to conservation problems.

Why do community trainings?
One way to reach the right people across the whole country at once is to hold community conservation trainings, and invite people who live near the country’s protected areasto attend. At the trainings, they learn how to launch their own conservation projects (like setting up community forestry areas).

“Local people in Myanmar recognize that their forests are more than just places to extract food and fuel. They also see the forests as beautiful, biodiverse places worth protecting.”

Dr. Teri Allendorf, UW Madison and Community Conservation

What will be accomplished?
February’s session was the second of a series of three trainings, covering all of Myanmar’s 21 protected areas. The goal is to give people from throughout Myanmar the tools and skills they need in order to manage their resources – which protects the habitats we all value.

Friends of Wildlife Staff

Community Conservation has partnered with local organization Friends of Wildlife to implement these trainings. Their knowledge of the local conservation landscape has been crucial to the project’s success. They said governance and participatory decision-making were important topics to cover, so these were a big focus of this training.

Khine Khine Swe (right) from partner organization Friends of Wildlife with two local leaders.

Attendees from the first training have already launched their own projects to conserve and protect the country’s incredible biodiversity! These two community leaders started a community forest in their village. Our colleageue Khine Khine Swe (right) visited them with Dr. Sansom and Dr. Allendorf to see how things were going.

Community Conservation’s Facebook page has more details, updates and photos from Myanmar.

Thank you to the Conservation, Food, and Health Foundation, the Helmsley Foundation, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and the University of Wisconsin for making this happen.

And thank you to the supporters of Community Conservation for helping us join the supporters of Friends of Wildlife and of this inspiring project!