SUPPORTED BY SAVE WILD TIGERS AND BORN FREE FOUNDATION THROUGH SATPUDA LANDSCAPE TIGER PARTNERSHIP
Awareness and Local leadership for Management of Conflict between humans and wildlife
Supported by Save Wild Tigers and the Born Free Foundation through the Satpuda Landscape Tiger Partnership (SLTP), the Tiger Ambassadors Project has been conceptualised by Poonam and Harshawardhan Dhanwatey of TRACT, to create leadership in the local communities in the region of the Nawegaon Nagzhira Tiger Reserve and Ghodajhari Wildlife Sanctuary, to minimise the attacks by sloth bears, tigers and leopards on people.
The Tiger Ambassador program in the buffer of Nawegaon Nagzhira Tiger Reserve was commenced in 2014 with the initial 25 villages; now the program covers 75 villages and 525 local leaders who work towards facilitating local participation for mitigation of the negative interface between people and wild animals.
Following the success of this Program in Nagzhira, we commenced the same concept in 10 villages along the periphery of Ghodajhari Wildlife Sanctuary in 2019.
The aim of the project is to help locals understand the reasons of conflict with large carnivores, their role in mitigation and the code of conduct within their community to reduce attacks on people by tigers, leopard and sloth bears in areas of co-habitation with wild animals. 7 motivated youth chosen to be the Tiger Ambassadors for their village are selected in each village in consultation with the village community and the forest guards. These Tiger Ambassadors have been trained by the TRACT team to be the bridge between the community and the forest management and to be the 1st responders to any conflict situations. They are sensitized about the need to share alerts about carnivore presence in their area that may pose a threat to humans or livestock. They are educated on how to manage attacks from carnivores along with the correct protocols to follow and can act as leaders for their community under such circumstances. They can also assist with managing crop depredation by wild herbivores in the village and educate farmers on practices to discourage future raids from herbivores. The chosen Tiger Ambassadors also act anti-poaching units which remain vigilant to suspicious activities and immediately inform the forest department. The ambassador teams are provided with uniforms to earn them the sense of importance and respect which they deserve. So far the project has been very successful, communities are supportive and proud of their Tiger Ambassadors. Though wild animals are seen more frequently near villages, the attacks on people has not increased, indicating community awareness as a crucial tool in mitigation.
TRACT co-ordinator Hivraj Raut conducting a community awareness workshop in a buffer village of Nawegaon Nagzira Tiger Reserve
Tiger Ambassadors of Asalpani Village, Nawegaon Nagzira Tiger Reserve clearing plastic with the help of TRACT team