In the months of May-June 2014, the Sahyadri corridor project did a collaborative camera-trapping activity outside protected areas with the Maharashtra Forest Department (Territorial wing of Kolhapur circle). This activity was only possible due to the efforts of M.K. Rao, Chief Conservator of Forests (Territorial), Kolhapur. He was able to purchase white-flash camera-traps (Moultrie 880C) which were distributed in six ranges of Kolhapur circle. These included Patne, Chandgad, Dodamarg, Amboli, and Ajara ranges in Kolhapur division, and Mahabaleshwar range in Satara division.
Girish took training sessions for each range so as to help the staff deploy camera-traps at appropriate locations to gather evidence of large carnivores, herbivores, and other wildlife. This activity was extremely fruitful as we found tigers, leopards, dholes, elephants, many small carnivores, and several herbivore species in some of these ranges. Interestingly, many camera-traps which were placed near water-holes also collected evidence of some amazing bird species, such as the Nilgiri wood pigeon, Malabar whistling thrush, emerald dove, and even the Malayan night heron! Rain played spoilsport in some cases but did not dampen our spirits till the end. Unfortunately, a few camera-traps were stolen during this activity, and were able to retrieve only one, that too in a damaged state.
Another positive of using camera-traps for monitoring was that we were able to photograph not just wildlife, but even poachers in one area of Dodamarg. The poachers, who were locals from the area, had waited right in front of one camera-trap. They never realized that their pictures were being clicked, and these photos have been used as hard evidence in a case against them, after we intercepted them with sambar meat. Such was the impact of this short two-month activity that the department plans to make it a regular affair!
The Sahyadri corridor project
This blog is about activities from the Sahyadri corridor project. The blog aims to share our experiences, hopes, achievements, and frustrations while trying to thoughtfully conserve the northern Sahyadris. Do share your comments..