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Madhya Pradesh Tiger Foundation Society signs MoU with TNC to enhance the Co-existence of People and Elephants in Madhya Pradesh

MoU between MP Tiger FOundation Society and The Nature Conservancy, India
Madhya Pradesh Tiger Foundation Society (MPTFS) and The Nature Conservancy Centre (TNC), New Delhi, on Thursday, 26th October 2023, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at a workshop in Bhopal. This workshop was aimed at identifying and addressing the challenges related to the co-existence of elephants and people in Madhya Pradesh.
The three-year MoU was signed between TNC and MPTFS (formed by the Government of Madhya Pradesh and under the office of Principal Chief Conservator Forests (Wildlife) & Chief Wildlife Warden). Under the MoU, MPTFS and TNC will explore collaboration in research and implementation activities to support conservation and restoration initiatives within the state.
The MoU was signed during the workshop chaired by the Shri JN Kansotiya, Additional Chief Secretary (Forest & Horticulture), who delivered the keynote address and stressed on “the importance of convergence across all departments for holistic conservation”. Madhya Pradesh Forest Department’s senior leadership comprising of Shri Ramesh Kumar Gupta, Principal Chief Conservator Forests (PCCF) & Head of Forest Force and Shri Aseem Shrivastava, PCCF (Wildlife) & Chief Wildlife Warden, along with other senior officials of the Department also graced the occasion. Shri Ramesh Kumar Gupta emphasised on “the importance of taking cognizance of our mythology to integrate cultural practices within our conservation work”. Shri Aseem Shrivastava raised several pertinent questions including “what is the state’s carrying capacity for elephants, principles to be adopted for expanding populations of elephants, and should the areas with current elephant presence be accepted for long-term monitoring?”
Prof R Sukumar, Honorary Professor at the Indian Institute of Science, shared expert knowledge on the presence, movement, and expansion of elephants across the country, focussing on the specifics for Central India. Dr Sushil Saigal, Director, TNC, explained about importance of linking science, practice, and policy for addressing sustainability challenges, such as co-existence of people and elephants. Several esteemed retired Forest Department officials, researchers and practitioners working on elephants in various parts of the country, and representatives from Civil Society Organisations were also present at this workshop, with a total participation of more than 70 experts.
Results from scoping studies and a field pilot related to human-elephant coexistence carried out by TNC and partners were shared by Dr Aditya Gangadharan. He described the process of elephant decline over the centuries, and identified further work that could support policy and management measures to address human-elephant conflict.
Sharing experience from their work on human-elephant conflict mitigation, Dr Prachi Mehta and Mr Jayant Kulkarni from Wildlife Research and Conservation Society apprised the audience of mitigation measures and learnings from Karnataka.
Field-level experience on the presence of elephants in their areas and the resulting co-existence issues were discussed by Shri Atul Shrivastava, PCCF (Working Plan) and Shri K Raman, ex-Field Director, Bandhavgarh National Park, with the discussion moderation by Shri Chitranjan Tyagi, ex-PCCF (Development).
Towards the end, the representatives from various participating organisations such as the Indian Institute of Forest Management, The Corbett Foundation, Indian Grameen Services, Network for Conserving Central India, WWF India, Wildlife Conservation Trust, Wildlife Institute of India, Ernst & Young, Tinsa Ecological Foundation shared their respective organisational experience and also engaged in discussion with the present officials from the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department.
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