Home Conservation News The Mud On Boots Project: Updates From The Field

The Mud On Boots Project: Updates From The Field

The Mud On Boots Project: Updates From The Field

It has been a busy September for our Project Leaders, and the month has featured wildlife rescues, community consultations and awareness programmes at several of our field sites. Here are some updates that were shared with us this past month.

Rescue and Release of clouded leopard Photo: Project Leader.

In Mizoram, Project Leader Zakhuma reports that the Forest Department team undertook an exciting rescue and release. A clouded leopard from the Dampa Tiger Reserve had taken to venturing into the Keparan Village for an easy meal of chickens. The Forest Department was able to trap the animal with the help of members of the community and release it into the safety of the reserve. The villagers’ tolerance of the cat and efficient coordination with the Forest Department is exemplary.

At home amongst tree branches, the clouded leopard faces dire threats from poaching, range fragmentation and habitat loss. This elusive feline features as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Leopard caught in wire fencing
Photo: Project Leader.

Project Leader Rajeev Chauhan in Uttar Pradesh was also witness to a big cat rescue. On the morning of September 22, 2017, the residents of Piproli Gadhiya village found a leopard entangled in the wire fencing erected to protect their bajra crop. As the leopard could not extricate itself from the fencing, the villagers immediately contacted the Forest Department.

Veterinarian Dr. Gaurav Srivastav took control of the situation. As the village lies near the Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary, due permission was taken from the Chambal Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) and the leopard was tranquilised and taken to Etawah. It is currently being kept under medical observation and will soon be released. Rajeev did not participate in the rescue but he and the Chambal Mitras, community volunteers trained by him, have been instrumental in advocating the replacement of electric fencing with simple wire fencing in the area. Previously a pair of leopards had been electrocuted while moving through fields in the same area.

Manoj Gogoi treating an Egret Photo: Project Leader.

On the periphery of the Kaziranga National Park, Project Leader Manoj Gogoi has kept busy with the rescue of a juvenile Cattle Egret and a branded krait. The egret chick was found in the village of Bogori Juri. It was injured after falling from its nest, and was so young that it hadn’t even formed its wings. After 50 days of nurturing and rehabilitation, this lucky egret was released back into its original habitat. Not far away, in the Dowgoan village, Manoj was also able to rescue a colourful branded krait. Venomous in nature, this one was an uninvited guest in one of the village houses, and was found coiled up in a corner of the residence.

In addition to this, villages lying on the fringe of the tiger reserve have seen their livestock being attacked by a tiger. Manoj has been treating these injured animals, which include two bullocks, two pigs, a cow and one frightened goat. They were all attacked within the last 10 day.

“I have been trying to convince people to create proper sheds or shelter for their livestock, to avoid such incidences. We cannot control the movement of wild animals in the fringe villages, being so close to the tiger reserve,” said Manoj.

Chandru in conversation with forest department members Photo: Project Leader.

In Tamil Nadu, Project Leader Chandru has been village-hopping as a part of his survey on the Critically Endangered Indian Vulture. He has been in conversation with the Irula and Toda tribes in Bhoothanatham, and the people of the Kallampalayam, Siryiur and Aanaikatty villages. These are located on the edge of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.

His conversations with the local tribes and stakeholders have led to some intriguing propositions. Questions were raised regarding the banning of livestock, in and around the reserves, without contemplating the role they play in controlling exotic weeds in the wildlife. The strategies implemented by the Forest Department have created friction between the tribal community and the department. Speaking of his interactions with various members of the community, Chandru said, “The expertise and knowledge of indigenous tribes in the management of natural resources needs to be valued and considered by the Forest Department and these communities need to be represented in managing councils and committees. Indigenous practices will be valuable to forest management and a collaborative approach will work to buck the current trend that is seeing tribal youth moving away from nature.” Chandru also spent time brainstorming ideas with members of the Eco-Development Committee and Range Officer at Paralikaadu near Coimbatore.

In Seoni, Madhya Pradesh, the three-member Flying Squad team that focuses on mitigating snake-human conflict conducted a comprehensive awareness workshop at Ari Village Boys Hostel in Jamuntola. The students learnt about venomous and non-venomous snakes in India, and snakebite management and prevention protocols.

Lastly, Project Leader Sajal Madhu is continuing his efforts to document human-elephant conflict in the Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh. This September, Sajal recorded the death of a young, male elephant by pesticide poisoning in the Pori village. A video report shot by Sajal and edited by Sachin Pillai, a Mud on Boots Project volunteer in Mumbai, was circulated amongst the community to apprise them of precautionary measures they can take when elephants enter their fields.

The Sanctuary Nature Foundation launched the Mud on Boots Project in January 2017. The programme aims to enable and empower grassroots conservationists across India, regardless of their academic qualifications or affiliations. To support this initiative, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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