The Southern African Wildlife College’s Protected Area Integrity Unit and African Field Ranger Training Services (AFRTS) recently presented a Trainer/Instructor course in Assam, India, with the support of United for Wildlife and WWF-India.
After a selection phase and five weeks of training, Assam now has 11 instructors equipped to introduce their forest staff to a new standard of training to help them carry out their duties in Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A quality management plan is in place to monitor and uphold standards and effectively implement the acquired skills and techniques, says Ruben de Kock, who heads up the SAWC’s Protected Area Integrity Unit.
Assam province’s Kaziranga National Park is the breeding ground of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer. The park has also managed to grow the population of the endangered greater one-horned rhinoceros. Over time, the tiger population has also increased in Kaziranga, which was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006.
In addition, the park is recognised by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) for the conservation of avifaunal species. Birds like the lesser white-fronted goose, ferruginous duck, Baer’s pochard duck, lesser adjutant, greater adjutant, black-necked stork, and Asian openbill stork specially migrate there from Central Asia during the winter season.
The park’s combination of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense, tropical, moist broadleaf forests creates a unique and beautiful habitat. It’s challenging to patrol though, with foot rangers monitoring conditions and watching for poaching and any other illegal activities—such as tree felling—for periods that can range from days to weeks.
The property receives the highest legal protection and strong legislative framework under the provisions of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Indian Forest Act, 1927/Assam Forest Regulation 1891.