Sometime last year (2013), I got an opportunity to attend the Volunteers Training Program (VTP) conducted by the Karnataka Eco-Tourism Development Board (www.karnatakaecotourism.com) in association with Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR - www.jungelodges.com), a week long extensive program with theoretical as well as field sessions to train an individual as a eco-volunteer to assist the forest department in their various activities.
Course content: A diverse course covering all aspects of forests, wildlife, conservation, role of photographers and much more that enables an individual to grasp what happens on a day-to-day basis and what are the challenges than an forest department employee faces and the field sessions like walking the beats along with the forest guards helps you gauge the amount of hard work they put in to conserve the forests and wildlife.
Sitting in air conditioned rooms and blasting out the keyboards on the laptops, we post, like, dislike, comment, share and are very critical of any happenings related to forests or the staff or the tigers or elephants etc.. It's only when you get out on to the field, get in the shoes of a daily wage watcher, eat what they eat and sleep where they do (cut off from their families for months together), you realize how important their role is and how important they are to conserve of what is left today; It literally strikes you in the face the harsh, raw realities that they go through day in and out.
We had various topics that we were briefed on and I'll list out some that I recollect...
> National Parks and Sanctuaries
> History and Role of National Parks
> Mammals - Introduction and Classification
> Birds - Identifying them
> Reptiles and Amphibians
> Lesser Fauna
> Life in an APC
> Tracks and Signs
> Role of a Eco Volunteer and Expectations
> Tools of the trade
We had talks too by various personalities ranging from park directors to botanists to conservationists to wildlife experts and let me list few that I can recollect
> Role of a Wildlife Photographer and Ethics
> Photography as a tool for Conservation
> Nature Inspires
> Taxonomy of Plants
> NTCA protocols and guidelines
> Wildlife Protection Acts and Schedules
> Man-Animal conflicts
> Wildlife crime
> Poachers and their operative methods
> Initiatives so far
> Walking the 'beats' along with the forest guards on their regular routine
> All about Camera trapping
> GPS tracking
> Bird watching and notes
It was an eye-opener for me and an opportunity to learn many new things (that I never knew) and improving on knowledge of many other facts and at the end committing ourselves to help the department in their various activities and protecting/conserving what we are left with.
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coming up next: Interesting learning's and what are we doing as volunteers now...