Preservation Of Wild Landscapes
Anirudh Nair speaks to wildlife conservationist Hans Dalal to learn about the organisation Preservation of Wild Landscapes (PROWL) that he co-founded in 2013.
Photo: Hans Dalal
“People ask me how they can contribute towards wildlife conservation? It’s easy, I tell them.” Identify a cause that’s close to your heart. Find an organisation that works for this cause. And just get to it.” Hans Dalal could be a poster boy for Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign. But he’s not. A sound engineer-turned-wildlife conservationist, his enthusiasm is infectious as he tells me about the NGO he co-founded with his wife Avantika Chandra in 2013.
In the five years since it was founded, Preservation of Wild Landscapes (PROWL), has made a tangible impact on the lives of communities living around tiger reserves including Corbett, Ranthambhore, Tadoba-Andhari, Sundarbans, Similipal, Gorumara National Park and the Umred-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary. Hans and his team are currently assisting the Maharashtra Forest Department in monitoring wildlife through camera trapping exercises and helping to resolve conflicts in the Central Chanda and Brahmapuri Forest Divsions around the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve.
Out in this rugged terrain, this crew interacts with local communities to enhance their awareness of wildlife, explaining how the absence of species adversely affects the forests and thus the lives of people. Of course, this is easier said than done in a landscape where crop depredation is the order of the day and where communities are constantly at loggerheads with the Forest Department, who are often accused of not restricting ‘their’ wild animals within man-made boundaries of the parks.
“We need to become more sensitive to environmental issues and not turn a blind eye to them as if it doesn’t have an impact on our lives. We must learn to co-exist, if we want to exist,” says Hans.
The organisation conducts camera trapping workshops and monitoring exercises for the Forest Department and undertakes surveys to assess pressures exerted by communities on forests. It also estimates the extent of crop depredation by wild animals and contributes towards capacity building for the Forest Department staff. When needed, it also supplements resources for ground staff… uniforms, solar torches, self-purification water bottles, point and shoot cameras, camera traps, blankets and winter clothing.
“Conserving our wildlife is not just the need of the hour, but the moral duty of every citizen. It’s time we stopped taking and started giving back,” says Avantika.
Hans, an effective public speaker and a firm believer in the power of technology, regularly reaches out to urbanites to involve them in conservation dialogue and action. He recently conducted an awareness campaign through Facebook Live in association with actor Alia Bhatt’s organisation CoExist and Dia Mirza, UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador for India. Together they discussed the interdependence between forests and city life and outlined ways in which adverse impacts could be reduced.
Photo Courtesy: PROWL
PROWL also produces documentary films for the Forest Department. In the past, Hans has also recorded the folk music of communities living around the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve.
In Hans’ words: “We believe in collaborating with people and organisations working towards a common objective, which is why we work closely with local NGOs and with networks such as the Conservation Consortium of India and the Sanctuary Nature Foundation.”
On the anvil for PROWL is a study to understand wild pig predation in the Central Chanda Forest Division, conducting a village-volunteer programme in the Brahmapuri Forest Division and another that seeks to support the forest guards of the Umred-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary.
|Sanctuary readers who wish to fund these projects and provide support to PROWL may write to
Address: PROWL, 402, Pushpa Kunj Building , A-Road, Churchgate, Mumba – 400 020.
Author: Anirudh Nair, First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXVIII No. 4, April 2018.