The goal of WWF-India’s KCL programme is to maintain the biodiversity values and cultural integrity of this landscape. The ongoing activities of WWF-India in this landscape in collaboration with its partners are listed below:
Enumeration of the present status of red panda: In partnership with the Department of Forest, Environment and Wildlife Management (DFEWM), Government of Sikkim, the team has enumerated the probable distribution of red panda in the state. Intensive research in selected red panda habitats is underway to ascertain their micro-habitat details and food preference. Threats to the species’ populations in its strongholds have been identified, and mitigation measures have been initiated in partnership with DFEWM, Rural Management and Development Department, Government of Sikkim, and local community-based organizations (CBOs).
Participatory conservation of high altitude lakes in Sikkim: This was initiated in partnership with The Mountain Institute (TMI) and DFEWM. WWF-India, along with these two agencies, formed the Sikkim Lake Conservation Guidelines that were approved by the Government of Sikkim as a gazette notification. Later, using these guidelines, WWF-India worked with TMI, DFEWM, Sindrabong Khangchendzonga Ecofriendly Society and Tsomgo Pokhari Samrakshan Samiti for the conservation of Tsomgo Lake in the east district of Sikkim. Following this, WWF-India also works for conservation management of Gurudongmar Lake in north Sikkim in collaboration with the Lachen Tourism Development Committee and the Lachen Dzumsa.
Ensuring rural water security in drought prone areas of Sikkim: This is done through the springshed conservation programme, with technical support provided to the Rural Management and Development Department of the Government of Sikkim. This programme was initiated for rejuvenating the dying springs of the state on which 80 per cent of the rural population depend for their daily water needs. Support for development of master trainers in the field of groundwater management through various training programmes is provided by WWF-India.
Natural resource management with communities: This is focussed around the two most important Protected Areas of Sikkim in terms of its transboundary nature – the Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve and Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary. Reduction of dependence on forest resources through promotion of alternatives to fuelwood, restoration of degraded forest areas and livelihood generation activities are some of WWF-India’s initiatives.
Promotion of responsible tourism in Sikkim: This is also WWF- India’s key focus and capacity-building programmes for tourism service providers in partnership with the Khangchendzonga Conservation Committee, Kabi Endeavours and other local CBOs were conducted in different parts of Sikkim in order to ensure sustainable and wildlife friendly tourism practices. Related to the issue of responsible tourism is garbage management, a problem that is increasingly being observed all over the state, and WWF-India is engaging with communities and the government to bring about efficient waste management practices.
Capacity-building: WWF-India encouragescapacity-building of the frontline staff of the forest department and other government enforcement agencies on technical and legal matters for curbing wildlife crime. WWF-India also ensures better coordination between the forest department and other enforcement agencies for this purpose. Bringing Sikkim-specific environment and biodiversity related lessons into the school curricula for has also been discussed with different schools in the state of Sikkim and the Department of Human Resource Development, Government of Sikkim.
Human-wildlife conflict: WWF-India, in partnership with DFEWM, TMI and few other CBOs in Sikkim, is not just documenting the status of human-wildlife conflict in the four districts of this state but also assisting them by demonstrating suitable measures for the management of the problem.
Project SERVE: In the Darjeeling hills, Project SERVE (Save the Environment and Regenerate Vital Employment) was implemented by WWF-India in 1996 with funding support from Projektwerkstatt Teekampagne, Germany. The main aim of Project SERVE is to restore the environment of the Darjeeling hills with active participation from the general public, government officials, local community members, students and teachers of schools, army personnel, local NGOs, tea garden management and the media. WWF-India is presently working with the villagers for setting up nurseries to develop saplings of indigenous species to be transplanted in degraded areas by seeking the participation of communities, schools, NGOs and government departments. WWF-India is also ensuring alternative livelihood of villagers by developing apiary, vermi-composting, floriculture and off-seasonal vegetable cultivation through metre-square gardening. Awareness programmes are conducted regularly in partnership with the stakeholders, mainly for school students in this region. WWF-India, in partnership with the West Bengal Forest Department, also undertook a survey on the status of the Asiatic black bear in the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary, Darjeeling.
In northern West Bengal, WWF-India is working with the West Bengal Forest Department and Government of West Bengal to prepare a comprehensive Tiger Conservation Plan for the Buxa Tiger Reserve and Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary.