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Northeast India’s video documentation hub coaching youth in conservation

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Kolkata: Digitally archiving wildlife and environment is a key resource in conservation, says environmental filmmaker Rita Banerji, who kick-started northeast India’s first youth and community based video documentation centre in Tezpur, Assam.

The Green Hub centre in Tezpur trains as many as 20 youths in video documentation, editing and photography to aid in recording the environment, wildlife, biodiversity Aand communities in northeast India.

“The first batch of students is now making short films and videos and a digital archive is being created. We offer a two-and-a-half month fellowship for which youngsters from remote and marginalised communities are selected. Experts in conservation coach them.”

“They can get into conservation through video documentation,” Banerji told IANS over the phone on Thursday.

Banerji, who won the Panda Award (Green Oscar) in 2010, alongwith co-director Shilpi Sharma for the film “The Wild Meat Trail”, said recording existing and disappearing biodiversity helps keep track and provides valuable information to stakeholders like NGOs and scientists who engage in conservation.

“Everybody who is working on ground has a camera and when they shoot wildlife they have a lot of footage lying around so the aim was how can we make use of those and make them openly accessible to the community so that they can protect their resources,” explained Banerji.

The Delhi-based filmmaker, who now divides her time between the national capital and the northeast, wishes to branch out to other regions, like the Odisha coast, for the video documentation hub.

Odisha coast has one of world’s largest nesting sites for the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles and is also Banerji’s focus areas.

“Turtle Diaries: The Olive Ridley Turtle” by Banerji, which won the ‘Film for Children’ award at the just-concluded eighth CMS Vatavaran festival, captures a stunning mass nesting event and shows how communities are assisting in conservation locally.

“The biggest threat to the turtles and wildlife in the coastal region is the disappearance of beaches due to development projects,” added Banerji.

(IANS)

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Monitoring Method May Help To Conserve Lions in India

In the new study, Keshab Gogoi and his colleagues have demonstrated an alternative method for monitoring Asiatic lions

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Lions
Conserving this sub-specie of lions with the use of best scientific methods is a global priority and responsibility, according to authors of the study from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). Pixabay

An alternative method of monitoring endangered lions in India can help improve estimates of their numbers and also in making informed conservation policy and management decisions.

New conservation practices have helped increase the number of Asiatic lions from 50 to 500 in the Gir Forests of Gujarat.

Accurate estimates are needed for better conservation efforts, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The existing methods, particularly a technique known as total counts, can miss some and double-count others. Also, they provide limited information on the spatial density.

Conserving this sub-specie of lions with the use of best scientific methods is a global priority and responsibility, according to authors of the study from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

In the new study, Keshab Gogoi and his colleagues have demonstrated an alternative method for monitoring Asiatic lions.

“Our research addresses this priority by developing a robust approach to their population assessment and monitoring, which can be used for all lion populations across the world,” said an author.

Gogoi and colleagues used whisker patterns and permanent body marks to identify lions using a computer programme, and analysed the data with a mathematical modelling method known as ‘spatially explicit capture recapture’ to estimate the lion density.

They also assessed the prey density and other factors that could influence the lion density.

Lion, Predator, Dangerous, Mane, Big Cat, Male, Zoo
An alternative method of monitoring endangered lions in India can help improve estimates of their numbers and also in making informed conservation policy and management decisions. Pixabay

The researchers identified 67 lions of the 368 sightings within the 725 sq km study area in the Gir Forests, estimating an overall density of 8.53 lions per 100 sq km. They found the prey density didn’t appear to influence the lion density variations in the study area.

The lion density was higher in the flat valley habitats (as opposed to rugged or elevated areas) and near sites where food had been placed to attract lions for tourists to see them.

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The study suggests that baiting lions for tourism affects their natural density patterns, in line with other researches that baiting disrupts lion behaviour and social dynamics.

The authors said the alternative monitoring method could be used to assess lions across their range (in India and Africa) and better conservation efforts. (IANS)