The concrete jungle that our city is, it hardly throws up a chance to connect with the wild, even if we have the sprawling national park within city limits. So, when the forest department offers amateurs the chance to participate in the animal census undertaken in wildlife sanctuaries around the city, it’s an opportunity you better grab.
What to expect
While the department encourages amateurs to participate in the census, they stress the need for volunteers to possess basic skills required to conduct the exercise. And this is where NGOs step in to help train participants.
Hariyali, a Thane-based NGO that has been associated with the forest department for three years, is currently conducting workshops at the Thane-end of SGNP and hopes to have a team of 50 volunteers ready for the census trails scheduled between May 3 and 9.
“The introductory workshop teaches participants basic census techniques that include pug mark tracing and casting. We have to ensure that volunteers have an understanding of these methods since they are expected to assist the under-staffed forest department,” says Saurabh Thakekar, project co-ordinator with Hariyali.
The basic workshop is followed by a longer trail that covers about 4 sq. km. of the national park. This is where the theory lessons held at previous workshops come in handy. The volunteers are tested for physical fitness, and observation skills on field. Having completed the training, you are ready to head out into Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary near Shahpur, Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary near Murud Janjira and Karnala Bird Sanctuary near Panvel, for the actual census.
Who can participate?
The forest department and NGO allow any wildlife lover to volunteer, as long as you they are enthusiastic and 15 years or over.