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Locus in Focus: One Scientist’s Story About Navigating within the Wild

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What do you do in the event you’re a scientist finishing up fieldwork in forests, removed from routes you could find on Google Maps? On a quiet and chilly night contained in the Core zone of Corbett National Park, our car jerking alongside some unfamiliar path, I used to be nervous and tense when our driver mentioned, “Sir ji! lagta hai galat rasta pakad liya humne..!” He mentioned he thought we had been on the flawed route, and I had a digicam lure to retrieve, so these phrases from my driver had been the very last thing I hoped to listen to.

As Sonu struggled to hit the fitting monitor, I attempted piecing collectively each element I might collect, hoping to search out the best way. After near 20 minutes of futile driving and mind racking, I remembered that I had mapped the whole route resulting in the deployed digicam traps in Locus Map, a well-liked GPS-based mapping app that many researchers use for conditions like this one. It took us one other 15 minutes to take a detour and eventually attain the specified location. I took off the digicam lure and climbed again into the car. Going by way of the pictures, I couldn’t resolve what introduced extra reduction and happiness to me at that second, the superbly captured pictures of tigers within the digicam, or the Locus Map in my cellphone nonetheless large open on my display screen.

As researchers we generally use this app for marking vital areas like that of digicam lure deployments, animal den websites, a river supply, or in additional normal, a selected distant village website. I got here throughout this app two years again whereas engaged on the ecology of Indian Grey Wolf as a Project Associate with Tiger Watch. My goal was to evaluate the habitat use of Indian-grey wolf contained in the Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS). I used a software program referred to as ArcGIS to put grids of 4×4 sq. km every on the entire examine space spanning 684 sq. km, however the handheld GPS didn’t enable all of the grids to be seen on the identical time. A fellow researcher, a discipline biologist working within the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve got here to my rescue,

The interface of Locus Map
Photo Credit: Screenshots by Prashant Mahajan

Suno, tum Locus Map download karo. Ye baaki jhanjhat mein mat pado.” (Just obtain Locus Map). “It uses a phone’s GPS to detect one’s current location. It has a vast repository of maps from all over the world, and the best thing about it, it works even without an Internet connection. You install it, and see for yourself,” he mentioned.

Within no time I used to be properly versed with the appliance. I imported my grid file to the app, and there they had been, all 48 grids seen on the identical time, simply as I had wished. Although taking a look at 48 grids collectively now appeared straightforward, strolling by way of every of them to gather knowledge on wolf’s direct and oblique indicators, whereas additionally recording the entire walked monitor, marking the vital areas on the best way appeared a frightening job to me. So, I approached some wildlife volunteers from the KWS villages working with Tiger Watch. I handed on my new discovered information of Locus Map to the volunteers and skilled them on its correct use with out making it complicated for them. I marked some areas as landmarks to make it simpler for them to find the start line of the grid.

At 5 grids per day, traversing 10-12 kms in every grid, we had been capable of cowl all of the grids within the subsequent ten days. The knowledge was safely saved within the app and yielded some wonderful outcomes. We had been capable of doc and mark indicators of wolves, hyenas, foxes, chinkara, nilgai, golden jackals, hares, bears, leopards and even few indicators of tiger.

Trekking in distant forests for knowledge assortment on animal areas might be fairly difficult and I’ve usually had problem remembering the route taken after a number of kilometres of strolling. In instances like these, applied sciences like GPS, Locus Map and so forth. present the much-needed help, though standard handheld GPS navigation gadgets usually are not a lot user-friendly and don’t present complete maps in contrast to the latter which does it enabling one to ‘know’ the upcoming terrain, how the route seems to be like, its size, elevation profile and so forth. Every at times, I click on photos utilizing it and geotag them simply for future reference.

A male tusker at Corbett National Park
Photo Credit: Prashant Mahajan

To restrict the relevance of Locus Map to the world of wildlife analysis can be a felony on my half, as I’ve actively used it on leisure mountaineering and trekking journeys too. On one such event, I really helpful it to certainly one of my buddies. The user-friendliness of the app has made it a favorite along with her. For somebody who’s unhealthy at remembering instructions, just a little information of life-saving applied sciences like these has completed her no hurt. 

A life with out know-how within the current world would maybe be unimaginable. But to let it take management over our lives may not be the wisest possibility, particularly throughout forest explorations. Once throughout knowledge assortment on elephant dung, I had my eyes glued to the cell display screen to report knowledge repeatedly and for a second forgot I used to be in a forest. Walking alongside the transect line I all of a sudden encountered a herd of elephants passing by way of the transect. Anyone who has skilled a herd of thumping beasts chasing them in an unknown forest would not thoughts throwing their cellphone to save lots of their life!


Prashant Mahajan holds a Master’s diploma in Wildlife Sciences from Aligarh Muslim University, apart from being a graduate in Zoology from the Delhi University, and a author. He has labored on the ecology of wolves in Rajasthan and was part of the analysis crew of the “All India Tiger Monitoring” mission with Wildlife Institute of India. Currently he’s a Project Fellow at Wildlife Institute of India.

Juno Negi is a researcher and blogger who accomplished her post-graduation in Anthropology with a bachelor’s diploma in Zoology, from the University of Delhi. Currently working as a Junior Research Fellow on the Wildlife Institute of India.

This collection is an initiative by the Nature Conservation Foundation, below their programme Nature Communication to encourage nature content material in all Indian languages. If you are concerned with writing on nature and birds, please replenish this manner.


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