Under the mentorship of renowned conservationist Girish D V, the WildCAT-C group, which is based in the Chikmagalur district of Karnataka, has been raising awareness about wildlife for the past 25 years. Along with a team of 100 members who understand the need to conserve the wild landscapes, the conservationist group is actively engaged in preserving the wild habitat of Chikmagalur. The group has limited their wildlife activities to their home district Chikmagalur.
The goal of the conservationist group is to be well-versed, informed, researched, and up-to-date on issues that affect conservation. The group also indulged themselves in diversified research programs like line-transect surveys to estimate prey density, then to capture and re-capture surveys to estimate numbers, distribution surveys to determine the presence of animals, and many other types of research to understand the wildlife better.
WildCAT-C founder Girish D V said, "we need to maintain forests without disturbing them; change our attitudes and lifestyles to protect them; reduce consumerism with more action and less talk." He mentions that whenever a wildlife conservation camp is organized in our neighbourhood, we never miss it. We learn from their failures and successes, thus increasing our knowledge of the biodiversity of this subcontinent.
"Conservation is when persons living in the area for generations truly understand the value of their surroundings and decide to take meaningful steps towards preserving the habitat for all locals who share the ecosystem. WildCAT-C epitomizes the coming together of concerned local citizens towards this endeavor," said Shreedev Hulikere, Managing Trustee, WildCAT-C.
The financial requirement for functioning a conservationist group is for activities such as support for forest guards and watchers, compensation to families affected by interaction with wildlife, educational activities, exposure trips, and legal expenses. The financial requirements for WildCAT-C functioning are met through voluntary contributions by the group members and others.
Efforts To Conserve Wildlife
In 1998, the WildCAT-C group made an effort to stop an attempt to modify and manipulate Basur Kawal'sKawal's dry land habitat by the Forest Department through the plantation of Accasia. Between 2000 and 2003, the team effortlessly worked and stopped the extraction of Bamboo from Bhadra Tiger Reserve and other protected forests of the district in 1998 and 2003.
The team members stopped the construction of a luxury resort by a private group in a vital shola grassland, which was a forest of the Bababudan Giri hill range. A petition was filed in 2008 in the JMFC court, Chikamagalur, by WildCAT-C with other conservationists. However, due to the group's intervention, the District Commissioner canceled the lease of 30 acres to the private group in 2012.
The team is currently working on several measures to protect wildlife, including expanding protected Areas – Mullayyanagiri Conservation Reserve, media outreach to spread awareness on nature, and tackling hunting and illegal wildlife trade. The team is also working on planning tourism management in the area. In 2017, the team successfully attempted to close Kemmangundi road in Bhadra Tiger Reserve between 6 pm, and 6 am.
The founder of WildCAT-C mentioned that our objective is to ensure that the remaining wild land in the district remains intact. We must ensure that wildlife and forest laws are enforced effectively and meaningfully. He added that we must also achieve public awareness about the need to conserve forests and wildlife.
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