Friday, August 12, 2011

Greater Gir forest staff undergo ‘refresher’ training in wildlife crime prevention

Greater Gir forest staff undergo 'refresher' training in wildlife crime prevention

Frontline staff of Junagadh Forest Division at the training

Gujarat's frontline forest staff responsible for the protection of the endangered Asiatic lion and its habitat in Greater Gir, are undergoing 'refresher' training to brush up their skills and knowledge in wildlife crime prevention tactics. The participants will also be provided fresh sets of field gear to facilitate effective patrolling.  

The training, organised for the Gujarat Forest Department by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) with the support of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), will continue till the end of August. A total of 450 frontline staff, many of whom were participants in the first training held in December 2009, will benefit from this refresher course.

"Today the number of key species like lion and leopard are increasing in Gir area, and providing the best protection is the key to long-term success of the conservation efforts," asserted KA Gandhi, Assistant Conservator of Forests, Mobile Squad, Gujarat Forest Department, who inaugurated the training for the first batch of participants from the Junagadh Wildlife Division on Friday.

"The frontline staff should be proactive and ensure that the habitat and wildlife is secured against encroachments, poaching and other illegal activities in the area. 'Be alert and available 24 X 7 to protect our wildlife' should be the attitude of every single staff who works in the Forest Department," he encouraged.

The training is designed by the Van Rakshak Project (VRP) of WTI, under which more than 9000 frontline staff in more than 125 protected areas and other wildlife areas across the country, have been trained and equipped. The Project also runs the unique Group Accident Insurance Scheme, providing an insurance cover of up to one lakh rupees to over 17,000 frontline staff, in case of permanent disability or death on duty.

"Wildlife protection is an evolving field, and the frontline staff - the first line of defence for the country's natural heritage, must be kept aware of any development to help them in their duties. VRP training modules are packaged in a way to ensure that the trainees not just brush up on their skills and knowledge, but also understand their application in practical situations," said Jose Louies, Officer-in-Charge, VRP.  

Over the next three weeks, a four-member WTI team will update the participants on the latest developments in the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, refresh their skills in crime scene investigation, effective processing of legal proceedings against criminals and use of field equipment like GPS, camera traps etc in effective wildlife crime prevention.

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