TCF is dedicated to the protection of wild species and their habitats, and works in prime Bengal Tiger habitats in Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Assam. TCF has been instrumental in the conservation of some of the last remaining Great Indian Bustard habitats in Kutch, Gujarat, and the One-horned Rhinoceros habitat in Assam. TCF's ground-level staff is always at the forefront to address issues pertaining to wildlife conservation, and also provides assistance to the Forest Department in several projects.
Besides helping to conserve India's flagship species, TCF works towards the conservation of crucial habitats at the landscape-level and creates awareness about their ecological importance.
TCF started several initiatives this year, including a project on vulture conservation, waterfowl census, study of invertebrates, seaweed farming and was also a part of the team assigned to prepare the Great Indian Bustard Recovery Plan.
Through its effective initiatives to reduce human-wildlife conflict, rescues and rehabilitations, on-ground scientific research, and collaborations with local, national and international partners, TCF works towards a future where humans and nature live in harmony.
The future of India lies in the hands of its youth, and there is a pressing need to spread environmental awareness among the student community to make them realize the seriousness of the issues at hand. TCF actively organizes workshops, campaigns and meetings to help create environmentally-conscious populations of all ages. TCF holds a wide gamut of awareness activities like quizzes, presentations, competitions, nature walks, celebrations of international wildlife and conservation days, film screenings, and a plethora of other fun-filled educational activities for teachers, children and local communities. Through a variety of competitions and interactive sessions, students are sensitized whilst actively absorbing the information at hand. Commemorative days such as ‘World Water Day’ and ‘World Environment Day’ and ‘World Forestry Day’ are occasions which are celebrated with gusto in the schools of villages situated in and around Corbett, Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Kaziranga tiger reserves, and the Greater Rann of Kutch. TCF’s awareness programmes are focused on five flagship species – Tiger Panthera tigris, Asiatic Elephant Elephus maximus, Greater One-horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis, Hardground Barasingha Rucervus duvaucelii branderi and Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps. To spread awareness about the hazards of global warming and climate change, TCF established an interpretation centre called the Centre on Global Warming at the outskirts of Corbett Tiger Reserve in 2009. Educational visits are arranged for students from local schools.
Young minds are malleable and TCF believes in bringing about a change in mindsets at an early age. India's youth are the very torch-bearers of the conservation movement of the future. TCF holds a wide gamut of awareness activities like quizzes, presentations, competitions, nature walks, celebrations of international wildlife and conservation days, film screenings, and a plethora of other fun-filled educational activities for teachers, children and local communities. TCF has been collaborating with other wildlife and conservation organisations such as Sanctuary Asia, WWF-India, The Rufford Foundation, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Saving Asia's Vultures from Extinction (SAVE), and many others, to collectively work towards safeguarding India's depleting wildlife. TCF's work has been published in newspapers and magazines like the Hindustan Times, The Hitavada, Twinkle Star, and other local and national dailies. TCF has published environment-related resource materials which include two books - Prakriti Sandesh and Alluring Kutch, and posters on vulture conservation and Great Indian Bustard conservation.
TCF believes that only a healthy community can contribute to a healthy environment. Modern medical treatment is often not easily available to communities in remote locations and TCF is working to bring about a change.
TO establish a relationship of mutual trust between the organisation and the people living in and around Corbett Tiger Reserve, TCF pioneered the Rural Medical Outreach Programme (RMOP) in 1995. It was felt that if the local communities were to be won over to the cause of conservation, some reciprocal benefits would have to be provided to them. Based on the phenomenal success of this initiative in Corbett, the RMOP was extended to Kutch in 1999, and Kanha and Bandhavgarh tiger reserves in 2010.
TCF operates a total of five dedicated mobile medical units to cover around 350-odd villages (every village is visited once a week) from around the tiger reserves of Corbett, Kanha and Bandhavgarh, Kanha-Pench Corridor, and around the Greater Rann of Kutch. Most of the villages in the above areas are remotely located. It is not uncommon for the villagers to walk for hours to the nearest Public Health Centre only to find that the doctor is unavailable. Such incidences not only create a feeling of neglect among the communities but they also are drawn towards quack doctors and witch doctors. The people of these areas suffer from several chronic diseases and disorders as a result of malnourishment. Immediate medical and healthcare facilities, either mobile or for few village clusters, must be provided to the communities. Only a healthy mind and body can appreciate and understand the need for the conservation of wildlife. Apart from medical check-up camps and treatment, the mobile medical unit also conducts health awareness programmes in schools and among community gatherings. Posters, pictorial handbooks, pamphlets have been printed on various ailments and issues such as Malaria, Water-borne Diseases, Tobacco / Liquor Addiction, etc. Successful and continuous RMOP implementation has created goodwill for TCF among the local communities. This grassroots approach is extremely important while undertaking any conservation programme. TCF has also been instrumental in creating awareness concerning health and hygiene for men, women and children. TCF has Out Patient Departments (OPD) across all its centres where locals can visit and receive primary health treatment.
TCF collects a nominal fee of INR 10/- per prescription to prevent misuse of medicines provided.
TCF is thankful to the support extended by the Friends of Conservation and Exodus Travels Ltd, UK for operating a full-equipped mobile medical unit in Bandhavgarh. TCF is also thankful to Baja Auto Ltd. for its support towards the medical programme in Corbett and Kanha.
The need for conservation of wildlife in India is often questioned because of the priority given to the issue of poverty of its people. With growing population, the pressure on the natural resources is increasing day by day. It is no longer viable for tribes and communities living in close association with Protected Areas to exploit the natural resources as they did 100 years ago. Due to the lack of alternative options of livelihood, a majority of the population is dependant on forest resource based livelihood generation activities such as collection of firewood for cooking and selling, Tendu leaves for making bidi, Mahua flowers for brewing liquor and other Non Timber Forest Produce which often put them in conflict with the objectives of biodiversity conservation. At times, local communities are also involved in the illegal felling of trees and hunting of wild animals. Communities such as the Baheliya and Pardhi have been frequently involved in the poaching of wild animals. Therefore the need to offer alternative livelihood / rehabilitation options to these local communities is necessary to divert them from forest-based livelihood options. Providing vocational training in skills that could fetch them employment and a decent livelihood is crucial to involve them in sustainable development of the area. Conservation efforts are most fruitful when there is active community participation. Local communities are the pivotal stewards of the natural environment and its inhabitants. TCF works towards empowering communities and improving their livelihoods, and in turn acquires their support in conserving India’s pristine wildlife.
A large number of local communities, especially those living in rural areas across India depend on animal husbandry for their livelihood, either as working animals for agriculture or in milk production. As a number of cattle in the areas TCF works in are working animals, and their ill-health directly affects the local economy. Veterinary care is of utmost importance in remote villages lacking such facilities since a large amount is invested in the upbringing of the animal, and lack of basic veterinary facilities as well as the lack of knowledge thereof can severely impact livelihoods. TCF provides timely primary veterinary services under the guidance of its veterinary experts and Livestock Inspectors (LI) across its divisions on a weekly basis. The LIs are also responsible for creating awareness on basic care and management of livestock, and for providing guidance in nutrition and upbringing of young animals.
Cattle constitute the primary means of livelihood for many communities living in and around tiger reserves. They form an imperative source of income for their use in agriculture and production of milk. To ensure that the livestock are kept healthy and provide maximum work output, TCF conducts regular veterinary camps in Bandhavgarh and Kanha Tiger Reserves, and in Kutch. The health of cattle is often neglected because of the lack of facilities and poor awareness. TCF’s veterinary team works around the clock, and treats cattle at doorsteps to ensure that locals follow sustainable and profitable animal husbandry practices to keep their cattle healthy and safe from diseases. Since these cattle often graze in forests, there is a threat of livestock diseases being transmitted to wild animals, and hence keeping them healthy is a step towards wildlife conservation.
TCF has set up four mobile veterinary clinics at Kutch, Kanha and Bandhavgarh, where skilled Livestock Inspectors work at the grassroots level to keep over 200,000 domestic cattle population healthy and free of communicable diseases. TCF has been appointed by the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department as the only NGO to conduct a Cattle Immunisation Programme covering all the domestic cattle population from the villages situated in the core and buffer zones of Kanha and Bandhavgarh tiger reserves in 2013 and 2014. TCF’s cattle vaccination programmes in Kanha and Bandhavgarh tiger reserves have benefitted over 150,000 cattle in 2013 and 2014. TCF promotes the use of stall feeding to reduce the numbers of free-ranging cattle in natural ecosystems. In addition to stall feeding, improving the domestic cattle breeds through introduction of high yielding bulls or artificial insemination of traditional Indian breeds is being promoted. The objective is to eventually reduce the number of cattle heads in the region. TCF tries to ensure that cattle venturing into the forest for grazing are healthy and the risk of disease transmission among the wild herbivores is minimized.
The Bombay Gow Rakshak Trust supports TCF’s Cattle Care Programme.
In addition to its flagship programmes, TCF also undertakes special projects that are directed towards the sustainable development, wildlife conservation and welfare of tribal and forest-dependent communities. Some of the special initiatives undertaken by TCF are listed and explained in the following sections.