Anti-poaching dog squad, Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India

Kaziranga National Park ( KNP ), a UNESCO World Heritage site provides vital habitat for diverse wildlife and has been protected since the early 20th century.

Kaziranga is the last stronghold of the Indian one-horned rhino, more than two thirds of the worldwide population live in the park.It is also home to the highest density of Bengal tigers in India.

However, this wildlife haven and it`s remarkable inhabitants are under threat. In 2014, 27 rhinos from Kaziranga were lost to poachers; the worst since the 1980`s and 1990`s.

It is vital that these endangered species are given the protection they need and wherever possible poachers are identified and brought to justice.

DSWF has worked with Indian NGO Aaranyak many years to protect endangered species in KSP.

A comprehensive communications system for the forest rangers as well as camera traps and research has been funded by DSWF.

Continuing to strengthen and expand upon current anti-poaching, in 2011 Assam`s first dog squad was established.

Jorba, the first dog, capable of picking up a scent, tracking and bringing down a suspect and trained to detect wildlife products such as tiger skin and bones, ivory and rhino horn.

He was joined by Babli in 2014 with more planned.

Restore Our Planet agreed to provide funding to procure and train another dog and handler providing all necessary food and equipment. We are pleased to say that in 2017 Misky began her training and has now joined the team.

In December 2019 Jorba was retired from active K9 duty after many years of loyalty achieving incredible results for the team. He will however be used to supply emergency scene of crime support whenever needed.

Sanctuaries for rescued ‘dancing’ bears

Thanks to the efforts of International Animal Rescue, in January 2010 the last of India`s `dancing` bears was rescued and placed in their sanctuary near Bangalore. The owner is to be retrained as a wildlife park keeper. His agreement to abandon bear `dancing` marks the end of a five year campaign in which 600 bears were rescued throughout India.

Sloth bear population numbers are believed to be as little as 18,000 and in decline, they are officially an endangered species. However, in India there were circa 1,000 sloth bears kept in a pitiful condition by Nomadic Kalandar tribesmen, solely for the purposes of ‘dancing’ for tourists.

Restore Our Planet supported IAR’s work to help provide the appropriate habitat for their bear sanctuary at Bannerghatta (near Bangalore, Southern India), and at Agra (near the Taj Mahal in Northern India), which can accomodate up to 200 rescued bears. This large site where over 6,000 new trees are to be planted provides the rescued bears with the environment that they require to live out the rest of their lives in comfort – as most cannot be returned to the wild.

The IAR’s wider work included working with police to prevent poaching, and implementing a scheme where tribesmen were encouraged to surrender their bears for 50,000 rupees (circa. £625) to start up a sustainable business – carpet weaving, bicycle repairs, and welding are some of the successes.

Conservation of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros

The current estimate of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros ( Rhinoceros unicornis ) population is just 2,006 of which 81% live in Assam, and 75% of that figure survive in Kaziranga National Park, making this park fundamental to the survival of the species. The Indian rhino was once found throughout the northern sub-continent.

In the past century human encroachment on vital habitat, hunting and the slaughter by poachers, eager to satisfy the voracious illegal market for rhino horn in Chinese medicine, has resulted in a catastrophic decline in the species.

The aim of this project is to ensure the survival of the Indian rhino through three key objectives. Increased anti-poaching operations with population and habitat monitoring;Protection of the park`s boundaries from human encroachment and entry by poachers;Increased awareness through staff training and community environmental education workshops.

To assist these aims Restore Our Planet has agreed to fund the hiring of elephants for anti-poaching patrols, cash incentives to forest staff and scholarships to children of Kaziranga Forest staff.

The Central Himalayan Rural Action Group

90% of the population in the state of Uttaranchal in the central Himalaya depend upon forests for their subsistence needs. The disappearance of forests from this region is thus a severe threat to local livelihoods as well as a regional threat leading to increased risks of flooding and drought.

The Central Himalayan Rural Action Group is a small Indian NGO which during 1997-2003 worked in Uttaranchal in the district of Nainital and surrounding districts focussing on the reafforestation of 600 hectares of degraded hillsides.

Restore Our Planet have funded the continuation of this work over the years 2004-2006, supporting CHIRAG’s work with 20 new villages to reafforest a further 360 hectares of degraded hillside and provide maintenance protection and monitoring as well as further environmental training.