Milind Pariwakam works in the Central Indian Tiger Landscape (as a part of Wildlife Conservation Trust), with a focus on road ecology, large carnivore population estimation, policy aspects of tiger corridor conservation and various management functions. He is also a member of the IUCN’s Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group (CCWG) and the World Commission on Protected Areas. (Profile by NCCI coordinator Amrita Neelakantan)
Why did Milind the youngster decide to dedicate his life to this way of living? When did “the moment” happen?
On 8th November, 2003 (which was a long weekend due to Gurunanak Jayanti), I was 29 years old and working for a bank. It was a Saturday and I was alone trekking up in the Kalsubai range and switched on my phone to look at the time and got multiple text messages pushing me for my sales targets that were on track! I decided that you live only once, that I liked nature more than anything else, need to switch career tracks and that day I made a decision to resign from the bank and enroll for higher education in wildlife.
One field day/moment that confirmed that you had taken the right path.
On 7th January, 2019 when I was walking with Dr. Gary Tabor and we found a tiger pugmark below one of the mitigation structures on NH7. I knew that the ten year campaign to get proper mitigation measures had achieved its preliminary objective.
Nearly 4% (about 13 million hectares) of the India's landmass is infested with lantana (Lantana camara) one of the world’s most invasive species which degrades the soil and inhibits growth of other vegetation. The damages from invasive species to forestry and agricultural economies are dire and in India, Lantana is a prime example. The villages surrounding the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh face serious lantana invasion, on common as well as farm lands. Now communities are reclaiming their lands by removing lantana and undertaking a phase wise restoration of their commons for improved fodder and fuel availability.
The efforts of the communities are allowing the return of native plant species leading to increased fodder availability for livestock, improved household incomes through NTFP collection and overall improvement in land productivity, both of commons and farmlands. The Foundation for Ecological Security team in Mandla aims to take this effort to the other villages lying on the fringes of Kanha National Park for reviving the lands infested by lantana, thereby not only strengthening the livelihoods of the communities but also improving the biodiversity of the region by allowing local flora and fauna to flourish.
Over 27-28th April 2019, Amrita had a pop-up of her new venture, Black Orchid, at Artists & Fleas (A&F) in Williamsburg and got the chance to see if Brooklyn loved making clothes from scraps as much as her. What ensued was a two day long conversation of what it means to be part of slow fashion and where it could take us. Sarika brought with her the final piece of this conversation, about how what we buy affects both people and nature in far off places, by sharing her work and selling tribal jewelry.
Creating things is fun and we seldom value the process enough in our daily lives. What better way to discuss our work, being mindful consumers and sustainability of our resources than to directly meet people at markets. Amrita and Sarika got a chance to do exactly that at the melting-pot that is A&F on Saturday with the Smorgasburg in full flow. Tourists from many different countries who came through the pop-ups got a glimpse of the work we do in our lab, conservation in central India, and #whatascientistlookslike when they are also a maker / crafter / doing outreach! Apart from tourists, they had interest from other makers (on their own journey in being conscious consumers), friends and family.
The Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) recently launched a website and released a report titled "A Policy Framework for Connectivity Conservation and Smart Green Linear Infrastructure in the Central Indian and Eastern Ghats Tiger Landscape." According to Milind Pariwakam, a wildlife biologist at WCT, while several reports, studies, and guidelines aim to address the issue of mitigating the negative impacts of such linear infrastructure on natural landscapes and conserving the connectivity that they offer to small populations of endangered species of wildlife, there is a lack of timely information on whether a particular project is likely to affect corridor/s.
Pariwakam further states that this report primarily seeks to address this specific lacuna by leveraging on earlier work by other entities and presents a way forward for better planning of linear infrastructure without compromising on the connectivity needs of wildlife. The same framework with improvements can be adopted by the statutory agencies for the other three important tiger landscapes in India, namely, the Western Ghats, Shivalik-Gangetic Landscape and the North East Indian Landscape by incorporating information on the corridors and proposed projects in the respective landscapes. Work is in progress on the other three reports.
MSc student, University of Delhi
Kanha Tiger Reserve, a popular tiger tourism destination, is a mixed forest characterised by
patches of sal, bamboo and beautiful vast grasslands. These different habitats support a large
population of ungulates - a diverse group of hoofed mammals. Ungulates like chital, chinkara, wild buffalo and many others form a major part of tiger diet. In fact, survival of large carnivores such as tigers depends directly on the prey base or the ungulate density. Understanding specific requirements of different ungulates is hence crucial for maintaining a healthy and diverse ungulate population and in turn high tiger numbers.
In a recent study, researchers from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and Madhya Pradesh
Forest Department, Mandla, documented the effect of human use, season and habitat on
ungulate density in Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. Researchers walked on 200
pre-determined paths covering 1200 sq km for estimating densities of six species of ungulates
which were barasingha, barking deer, chital, gaur, sambar and wild pig for each management
area and habitat type. Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR) contains two management areas, first is
the core area which contains no human settlement and second is the buffer zone which is a
multiple use area with human settlements and is often comparatively more disturbed. The
study considered 4 different habitat types in KTR which were grassland, pure sal forest,
miscellaneous forest and bamboo mixed forest.
The study finds that the ungulate biomass in the core area is much higher, almost 4.8 times, in the core area compared to the buffer zone. Among all ungulates studied, chital was the most abundant with higher density in the core area compared to the buffer zone. A consistent result was obtained for both gaur and sambar. Barking deer and wild pig densities showed no marked difference in the two management areas. Nilgai was the only ungulate with higher densities in the buffer zone compared to the core area whereas barasingha and chousingha had no records from the buffer zone in this study. Absence of these two rare and endangered species from the buffer zone which has moderate to heavy human disturbance and their restricted presence in the core area highlights the need to maintain intact core areas which provide critical habitats for threatened species. To put simply, ungulates don’t like humans except maybe nilgai.
Project Spotlight highlights our members' work in Central India.
|Network for Conserving Central India||