Wildlife conservation is the practice of protecting wild animals, bird and plant species, the insects, and all the hidden treasures of the forest in their habitats.
Wildlife conservation is a sensitive issue in India (only 3% of India’s forests are protected Wildlife Sanctuaries, National parks, or Tiger reserves). With increasing human population and decreasing forest areas, conflicts between man and animal are on the rise.
Wildlife Conservation Foundation was created by a collaboration of likeminded childhood friends who grew up with a great appreciation and deep love for nature. They wanted to express, in a determined way, their desire to conserve nature in its natural state for our future generations to appreciate.
RajKumar, Srinivas, and Varchasvi Shankar along with Professor Sadanand and Mrs. Usha RajKumar, came together and founded Wildlife Conservation Foundation in 2007. Mentored and guided by Professor Sadanand, who taught them many things within conservation; birdwatching, identification of plants, co-relation of nature, to even observing and respecting the insects around us.
Varchasvi Shankar, President and CEO of V2Soft, has his passion set towards the conservation of the tiger and its habitat. RajKumar decided to give up his business and work towards full time conservation activities. While Srinivas, Professor Sadanand, and Usha RajKumar are continuing to support in as many ways possible, they put their thoughts and plans to work towards establishing this organization in Bandipur National Park (Later Re-organized as Bandipur Tiger Reserve). Their dream had come true with setting up the field station at Mangala Village in the outskirts of Bandipur National Park. Varchasvi Shankar who gave his helping hand in setting up the Wildlife Conservation Foundation, offered his best thoughts and input as Director over the conservation education programs. He brought focus to the daunting task of tackling India's growing wildlife crisis by promotion of the conservation of wildlife in India.
Varchasvi proclaims, “Conservation must involve a commitment to preserving wildlife and forests and also inspire people to care deeply and act effectively. Through WCF we want to encourage more and more conservation by educating and urging communities to participate before it is too late.”
Over the past 8 years WCF has been involved in various community based programs to educate and sensitize the local communities - particularly the school children living in the surrounding areas of the Bandipur Tiger reserve. This has vastly improved the gap between the forest department and the villages, thus helping the forest department to coordinate the conservation activities in the reserve. V2Soft employees contribute to WCF by volunteering regularly in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve to spread the message of conservation and protection of wildlife to the villagers around the area.
WCF initially started with conservation education training for the school children’s surrounding the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Then came the forest fire conservation activity. In-between assisting the forest department in their efforts for surveys and census, WCF also did the Comprehensive Bird Survey for all the three different seasons. There was persistent direction and coordination with scientists of the Indian Institute of Science for their wildlife and habitat studies, data collection, and various scientific activities.
Throughout the years WCF also observed a few animals getting killed while crossing the highway that intersects the Tiger reserve. Initially it was just an observation. When the data was compiled for a couple of years, WCF observed that the animals getting killed were not only alarmingly high, but crossing the highway was causing a higher rate of deaths than poaching. This gave a thought to study the road kills and in 2009, WCF took up the cause of stopping vehicular movements inside Bandipur during the night hours which led to accidental deaths of animals. This study led to the banning vehicle traffic by the honorable high court during night in 2 major National Highways (NH67 & 212) that cut through Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
WCF to date, has conducted more than 300 wildlife conservation programs for schools, colleges, and village Eco Development Committees regarding the dangers of forest fires and encourages those informed to spread the message to others. WCF in collaboration with hospitals and social organizations also conduct various free health camps to help communities surrounding Bandipur. Interestingly, they also conduct street plays to sensitize locals about the conservation of forests in more than 200 villages surrounding the Bandipur forest border. These villagers depend on the National Park for grazing cattle and for collection of firewood. Villagers directly interact with the forest department and take appropriate measures to minimize the human wildlife conflict.
Since 2013 WCF has set-up a community based power fence to ward-off elephants and prevent man-animal conflicts in villages around BTR. This has been a huge success with the community and has helped to build a positive equation with ecosystem, but needs funds to continue.
WCF has led from the front and has been a model wildlife NGO, we will continue to save the tigers and the natural habitat and fight against the malevolent forces that are at work to destroy the priceless natural resources of our land, be it the majestic and mesmerizing tiger or the primordial trees of awesome beauty in the forests.
Bandipur Tiger Reserve is located in Karnataka, South India (The first batch of identified forest for Tiger protection in 1973). This protected area is a part of NBR (Nilagiri Biosphere Reserve) which adjoins three other protected tiger reserves (Nagarahole National Park in Karnataka state, MadhuMalai National Park in Tamilnadu state, and Wayanad in Kerala state) these three protected areas together form the WORLDS LARGEST TIGER POPULATION (2014 Tiger survey showed 504 Tigers in this part of India). Bandipur also supports populations of endangered and vulnerable species like Indian Elephants, Gaurs, Tigers, Sloth Bears, Muggers, Indian Rock Pythons, Four-horned Antelopes, Jackals and Dholes.
Bandipur National Park helps protect several species of India's endangered wildlife and also provides refuge to other threatened and vulnerable species of Flora and Fauna. Bandipur is home to over 300 species of birds including Honey Buzzards, Red-headed Vultures, and Indian Vultures, Flowerpeckers, Hoopoes, Indian Rollers, Brown Fish Owls, Crested Serpent Eagles, Changeable Hawk-eagles, Bee-eaters, and a whole lot of Kingfishers.
Bandipur Tiger Reserve is the largest among these Four National Parks of NBR area, about 1,200 Square Kilometers. This reserve has a heathy Tiger population that is estimated at about 100+ tigers. The reserve is also guided with one of the best protection plans from the Karnataka State Forest Department and joins hands with non-government organizations like WCF (Wildlife conservation Foundation).
V2Soft actively supports the preservation of endangered species and wildlife in India and across the globe through its organization the Wildlife Conservation Foundation, WCF India (www.wcfindia.org). Varchasvi Shankar who as a Director for Conservation Activities of the foundation, has been actively involved with the organization for years and has a passion for conservation of the environment. “I created the program to do what is right for the environment and play our part of saving our wildlife. It is time we all did. We need to urgently to create awareness and support efforts to preserve our wildlife for our future generations,” Varchasvi Shankar (President & CEO V2Soft). V2Soft employees actively volunteer for conservation activities managed by WCF.
Varchasvi Shankar the CEO as the director of all conservation education programs personally supervises the conservation activities and the funding of various annual projects of WCF and has committed to continue to put in the best efforts to save these magnificent forests and the heritage of this land of Tigers.