Sugoto Roy is coordinator of Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP) being run through 11 projects in 5 tiger bearing countries. Roy is in Sillari (Pench) for a 4-day global workshop to review various projects including Vidarbha landscape where ITHCP is being implemented. He specializes in the ecology and management of carnivores, invasive species and human-wildlife conflicts.
Excerpts from the interview …
Q: What is ITCHP all about?
A: The main aim of the program is an improved conservation of selected tiger populations and their habitat that also incentivizes local community support and participation in tiger conservation through the creation of tangible livelihood benefits.
Q: Despite several separate initiatives, why man-animal conflict is not going down?
A: It will never go down because as tiger numbers are increasing owing to better conservation steps, human population is also growing leading to habitat degradation by humans, and fragmentation through development of infrastructure such as roads and highways. The majority of remaining tiger populations are isolated, unconnected to other populations and face increasing encroachment by human settlements.
Q: So what is the solution?
A: Humans coexistence with tigers holds key. The conservation of tigers involves management of problems at a number of levels. Successful conservation programmes will therefore need to be multi-disciplinary, covering areas existing tiger populations through anti-poaching measures, conflict mitigation and habitat conservation. Coupled with there is need to improve livelihoods of communities living in and around tiger habitats so that forest resource use is sustainable and alternative livelihoods can be developed. Many of our initiatives are a result of Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP).
Q: Yet, why results are not forthcoming?
A: There are no short-term results in tiger conservation. You cannot win by working randomly. All NGOs need to work coordinately.
Q: Electrocution is bigger threat than poaching?
A: You are talking about Central India landscape, but I won’t comment on this. Different countries have different laws in this regard. We work basically to share knowledge globally, and hence cannot focus on small details.
Q: How will IUCN project help?
A: I’m confident that it will bear results. If need is felt, we may extend the project beyond 2018. To bear fruits we will enhance tiger conservation-related infrastructure, procurement of vehicles, telecommunication equipment, IT, etc capacity building through technical training of front line staff, reduce livestock grazing in tiger habitats. Besides, we will reduce livestock predation through appropriate husbandry and provide economic incentives to locals for conserving tigers and habitat; diversify and strengthen livelihoods and income generation activities — including those based directly on tiger conservation.
Q: Do you think IUCN project should be integrated with state schemes?
A: I don’t disagree with it as India is doing very well in tiger conservation.
Q: Why only tiger is the focus?
A: Tiger is an iconic species. If you save tigers, other species will automatically benefit. But I feel research should focus on multiple species.
Date : 30 October 2017