Main aims of this field trip were to join the Rakhine Yoma Elephant Reserve (RYER) warden in inspecting the patrol elephant team and the upgraded guard post on the Kyeintalie stream. The visit provided an opportunity to provide refresher training for existing staff and basic training for the new community guards. The park warden supervised improvements including new water management and installation of solar panels, radio and antenna mast to make the guard-post more effective. There was then a general introduction for the training, led by the warden. The training with patrol teams at Kyeigarkhon Guard-post for 4 days starting from 1st December to 4th December.
Martin Tyson, WCS technical advisor, gave a presentation on how WCS and donors support the conservation efforts of NWCD in RYER. This was followed by discussion of patrolling strategies among the teams.
U Htet Arkar Aung, WCS Research Assistant, gave a presentation on the theory and practice of Global Positioning Systems (GPS). WCS staff carried out practical refresher training on GPS with Forest Rangers. The Rangers and WCS staff guided the new community staffs, who were learning about use of the GPS for the first time, through ‘hands-on’ experience.
U Saw Htoo Tha Phoe, Senior Technical Coordinator, presented the background of camera trapping (CT) development and its use for scientific monitoring, followed by a demonstration of how to set up a camera trap in the field. The teams then had a hands-on session to learn how to configure and check cameras before they are place in the field. The group then deployed four CT cameras to test their understanding of the procedures.
A patrol review discussion, including a presentation and analysis of SMART patrol data over four years, led to a debate about the strategy for the recently increased patrol capacity and identification of new methods to detect hunters. Following the evening meal, the teams enjoyed a series of wildlife videos featuring Asian species.
The team took three boats upstream to reconnoiter a potential new camp location, which is likely to be used as an additional control point for law enforcement and/or as a research base. Then they continued further upstream, checking trails for signs of people and animal tracks, until it was time to return to Kyeigarkhon.
On the return to the guard-post, a patrol review discussion, including a presentation and analysis of SMART patrol data over four years, led to a debate about the strategy for the recently increased patrol capacity and identification of new methods to detect hunters. The warden and forest rangers developed new patrol plans for the coming five months, which aim to enhance protection in the reserve. After dinner the teams again watched wildlife videos.
On the last day of the training, the teams retrieved the CTs in the early morning, and reviewed the results − only one large Indian civet was photographed − but the teams learned about the effective capture of the cameras (and that moths can trigger the cameras). Martin Tyson reviewed images collected by the rangers during SMART patrols, and led a discussion of ways to improve clarity and consistency in photography. The teams then packed up and loaded the boats, returning to Kyentalie by noon.