WWF-India's work in Terai Arc
1. Monitoring of wildlife and key corridors
WWF-India conducts camera trapping exercises in key wildlife corridors to assess the usage of these corridors by wildlife, and thereby prove their functionality. The monitoring activities also help in collecting baseline data for tigers, elephants and prey base in the forests. In 2011, our camera-trapping work in the forests of Ramnagar Forest Division revealed the presence of 15 tigers per square kilometre, one of the highest densities ever found in any forest outside the Protected Area Network.
2. Reducing forest dependence
We are working in villages in four wildlife corridors to reduce their dependence on forest resources such as fuel wood. These villages have been introduced to alternate sources of energy such as biogas, LPG and use of fuel efficient chulhas (stoves). To reduce open grazing of cattle, and complement the biogas initiative, villagers are encouraged to stall feed their cattle, which helps in the collection of dung used in the biogas unit and also reduces grazing pressure in the forest as well as lifting of cattle by tigers.
3. Managing human-wildlife conflict
In order to control retaliatory killing, victims of cattle lifting are provided with immediate interim relief in the form of monetary compensation due to tiger attacks, which helps the victims in covering their loss in the time taken for the compensation from the Government or Forest Department to reach. This model has been very effective in this landscape, and in the past three years, there have been no retaliatory killings of tigers. We also monitor the livestock carcass through camera traps, the results of which ensure no carcass is poisoned, and also help to map areas with increased conflict. Anti-Depredation Squads have been created in some villages which are trained to drive away wild elephant herds raiding their crops and fields to manage human-elephant conflict. Long-term solutions include construction of a 4km long solar fence in the Ramnagar Forest Division.
4. Policy and advocacy
We work towards promoting broad-based support for conservation by involving the Forest Department, local political leaders and communities. Using the results of our scientific research and studies in the area, we advocate for the adoption of policies favourable to conservation measures, and in many cases stopping developmental activities that would have an irreversible negative impact on the habitat and its wildlife. Our efforts have resulted in the construction of smart infrastructure in the area, which includes construction of underpasses along with roads for wildlife to pass through unharmed. We assist the Forest Department in developing management plans that include components of corridor conservation, which is a key conservation requirement for this landscape.
5. Raising awareness among local communities
WWF-India conducts regular educational programmes for school children as well as members of the local communities, informing them about the importance of wildlife and forests, educating them about the wildlife supported by the forests, the important role they can play in conservation, as well as living in harmony with wildlife.