GUWAHATI: In a significant stride towards international collaboration for biodiversity conservation, a three-day tour unfolded in Assam, marking the culmination of a visit by dignitaries from France and South Africa under the Indo-Pacific Parks and Biodiversity Partnership. The delegation's focal point was the renowned Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve, where the participants delved into diverse aspects of wildlife protection and management.
The concluding day witnessed the exploration of the interconnected landscapes of Kaziranga, Nameri, and Orang National Parks via waterways, offering a unique perspective on the region's rich biodiversity. The journey wrapped up at the Bhomoraguri Inspection Bungalow, providing a picturesque finale to the immersive experience.
Integral to the visit was a workshop and field visits aimed at fortifying the partnership's commitment to biodiversity conservation. International experts engaged in discussions and practical experiences, focusing on best practices such as national park policies, anti-poaching enforcement strategies, community livelihood initiatives, participatory decision-making involving local institutions, and innovative wildlife monitoring techniques.
The initiative operates under the Park and Biodiversity Partnership, a trilateral alliance between the French Development Agency (AFD), French Forest Service International (ONFI), and the Assam Forest Department. The partnership, formalized in May 2022, emphasizes knowledge exchange and expertise sharing among the stakeholders.
The program commenced with a knowledge-sharing workshop at Kaziranga, chaired by M.K. Yadava, the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) and head of forest force (HoFF) for Assam. Attendees included representatives from ONFI, Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD, France), South African National Parks (SANparks), and officers from the Rajasthan forest department.
Thematic round-table discussions during the workshop facilitated the exchange of insights and experiences in wildlife conservation practices. Forest officers from Assam shared their expertise, covering aspects like long-term monitoring, surveillance, enforcement, and community engagement through initiatives like ecotourism.
Delegates also immersed themselves in the practicalities of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve, interacting with frontline staff and witnessing demonstrations of conservation measures, including soil and moisture conservation, drone-based surveillance, camera trapping for population estimation, and land reclamation.
A noteworthy aspect of the visit was the interaction with women serving on the frontline at anti-poaching camps, highlighting the diverse and inclusive nature of Assam's conservation efforts. The event underscored the shared commitment towards global biodiversity conservation and the exchange of valuable strategies for sustainable park management.