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.

Group of trainees in Nepal at wildlife training session walk through the forest

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.

Group of trainees in Nepal at wildlife training session in a forest clearing standing in a circle around leader as he shows them how to work the GPS and camera traps.
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.

Group of trainees in Nepal at wildlife training session sit in open-air training pavilion and listen to speaker while taking notes
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
Group of trainees in Nepal at wildlife training session in forest crouching down as they attach a camera trap to a tree
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.

Want to make more projects like this happen?

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

Update: Community Wildlife Corridor

Nepal, 2019

Dr. Teri Allendorf is working with communities to explore a new potential wildlife corridor in Nepal.

Bengal tiger walking through grass
Bengal tigers are one of the species that would benefit the most from a new wildlife corridor here in Nepal. Photo by Charles J. Sharp

The vision: a corridor of safe habitat for large mammals and other wildlife, which will allow them to travel back and forth between large protected areas. This corridor would help many animals, including large iconic species like tigers and elephants, to thrive and increase their populations.

Dr. Allendorf has had productive meetings with community leaders in the area to assess whether communities would be interested in participating and learning about the issues that are important to them.

This type of conservation work takes time, but is ultimately the most impactful because local people are involved and co-leading the process from the very beginning.

Conservation biologist's shoe pointing out a tiger footprint in the dirt
Hidden in plain view in Chitwan National Park – can you see the tiger track?

The ten community forest groups that the team met with are interested in joining with this project and learning to identify and monitor wildlife species. Currently, we are waiting to hear back from communities on their suggestions for proceeding.

Check out Community Conservation’s Facebook page to see some of the people Dr. Allendorf has been meeting and some of the interesting things happening in protected areas in Nepal.

While in Nepal, she also has been working with local mammalogists to look for signs of critically endangered pygmy hogs. Read about this work in our previous update.

Conservation workers standing together and smiling in front of a garden and house

Meeting with local conservation champion Laxmi Singh in Karmala village near Bardia National Park. (L-R: Dr. Dinesh Neupane, Dr. Teri Allendorf, Communications Intern Anil Jergens, Laxmi Singh, and her husband)
Conservation workers standing together, some smiling, in front of a house.
Meeting with Ms. Sabitra Pun, FECOFUN chairperson for Banke District (L-R: Sabitra Pun’s husband, a CF committee member, Dr. Dinesh Neupane, Ms. Pun, two more CF committee members, and Dr. Allendorf).