Sunday, November 11, 2012

Harshawardan and Poonam Dhanwatey, November 2, 2012

Poonam Dhawatey and I.
 One of my most wonderful mornings in India was the one I spent with Harsh and Poonam Dhawatey, two of the Founder Trustees (and President and Secretary) the Tiger Reserve and Conservation Trust (TRACT).  Founded in 2001, TRACT’s goal is to conserve the wild tiger and its habitat within and beyond the boundaries of Tadoba, a Maharashtra State Tiger Reserve.  The Tadoba Tiger Reserve is ~ 625 sq. km with a 1,150 sq. km buffer zone.  The reserve is home to three of the country’s large carnivores: the tiger, leopard and dhole.  TRACT runs a number of projects including mitigating human-tiger conflict outside the protected areas, surveys for the availability and connectivity of suitable tiger habitat and patrolling the reserves borders to reduce threats to tigers, monitor and deter illegal activities and to provide timely assistance to management and injured wildlife.  An extremely important part of TRACT is that they take a grass roots approach to tiger conservation, working with the local communities, villages and farmers and employing and training local community members to conduct patrols in the sensitive border area.

As we sat for the morning and discussed TRACT and each of our countries conservation issues, we were surprised at the many similarities in our organization’s basic operations.  Like Bird Studies Canada, much of TRACT’s funding is project-based, sought on a yearly basis to support specific conservation activities and projects.  Also as in Canada, partnerships, between state and federal government, are important to advancing conservation efforts.  On a personal note, it was wonderful to speak with two people who “spoke the same language” as me and I felt quite honoured to have been afforded the opportunity to spend time with Harsh and Poonam. 

As I left, Harsh provided me with several books, Mammals of India, Snakes of India…to prepare me for our group trip to Tadoba the next day.

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