(Update written by Sourabha Rao)
Our IFS training course today began with a presentation by our very own Mutthana P. M., Senior Director of our Conservation Support Group. He explained the nuances of voluntary relocation work in Karnataka and Kerala that he and his team work on, drawing from his immense experience in the field.
"The notion that people are living harmoniously with wildlife in certain areas is far from the truth. If you spend time interacting with these families on field, people are keen on moving out of protected areas to live in better social and economic conditions, instead of constantly worrying about human-wildlife conflict and the remoteness of their settlements among other challenges. Our aim is to support them with livelihood generation, for easy transition into their new lives after the voluntary relocation process. We support them with our trainings for skill development, and ensuring better education and healthcare facilities for them through the government schemes," said Mr. Mutthana.
Sahila Kudalkar, our Conservation Director and Program Manager, Counter Wildlife Trafficking (CWT), took up the virtual stage after Mutthana, and explained the functioning of our CWT programme which aims to support mandated agencies to effectively detect, identify, investigate, arrest, prosecute, and convict criminal organisations that perpetrate wildlife trafficking. Our goal is to work closely with the government to improve conviction rates of wildlife traffickers, and ultimately dismantle organised wildlife trafficking networks, and thereby help ensure all of India’s wildlife can thrive in their native habitats.
Our CWT programme plays the role of a facilitator, enabling government officials to gain access to information, skills, technologies, and expert support required to tackle wildlife related crime in India. The work of the programme consists of conducting training and sensitisation workshops for state forest departments, police, customs officials, security forces such as the Border Security Force and Sashastra Seema Bal, and the judiciary. Our Counter Wildlife Trafficking programme offers support to enforcement agencies through training, legal assistance, instant guidance on wildlife crime queries via a dedicated helpline and intelligence analysis. Learn more about it here.
Mr. N. Sunil Kumar, Head, Sustainable Banking, Performance and Development at Royal Bank of Scotland and CEO at RBS Foundation India, voluntarily participates in strategy making and field support to NGOs. Mr. Kumar and Mr. Ramesh Pratap Singh, IFS, APCCF, Madhya Pradesh, addressed the participants of our IFS training course today and shared their experiences of voluntary relocation from a CSR perspective.
They also discussed innovative ideas to document pre-voluntary-relocation and post-voluntary-relocation status of people so that we can quantify the impact of voluntary relocation in various sites across India. Mr. Kumar and MR. RP Singh are involved in the voluntary relocation programme in Satpura Tiger Reserve, ensuring the smooth transition of people and their accessibility to better livelihood opportunities.