Green Guard Nature Organization

Introduction

The Green Guard Nature Organization was formed in 1994, primarily as an agency for wildlife conservation. Its stated objectives include wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, environment conservation, environment education & awareness generation, upliftment of forest dwellers, survey, census and documentation of biodiversity, scientific study and analysis, protection of natural habitats including wetlands, grasslands and woodlands and supplementing the efforts of the Forest department.

The organization was registered in the year 1996. In the initial stages the success of the organization was in stopping the trade of wild birds and animals in the areas of its operation. Later it was able to ensure that professions that exploited wildlife, like snake charmers, were not allowed in Nagaon and its neighboring areas. The organization was able to achieve considerable success in its endeavor to promote awareness about wildlife through its various programs during the World Environment Day, Earth Day, Wildlife Week, Wetlands Day, etc., organized for school and college students in the Nagaon and Morigaon districts of Assam.

Census & Survey

Green Guard was probably the first organization to participate in the survey, census and documentation of the biodiversity of the Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, the Burhachapori Wildlife Sanctuary, the biodiversity rich foothills along the Nagaon- Karbi Anglong border and the avifauna of Nagaon & Morigaon districts. The Migratory Birds Census cum monitoring program was launched in 1995 and has been continued every year. Under this program, we have already identified 8 important wetlands with the most potential for future conservation in the districts of Nagaon and Morigaon in central Assam and most interestingly, these are all outside the protected areas. These wetlands are regularly monitored and the collected data is sent to the International Wetland Research Bureau and the Asian Wetland Research Bureau.

Our members also participated in the Wetland and Waterfowl Census cum Survey conducted by the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology (SACON) and the UNDP at Nagaon and Morigaon districts during the period from December 2001 to February 2002. Under this programme, 20 wetlands were surveyed. In 2001, we had identified a vast area of grassland containing numerous water bodies with an area of about 37 sq. kms., now known as the Deobali Jalah, has been recognized by SACON of Coimbatore as one of the most priority sites for conservation in Assam under their wetland area conservation program and also an Important Bird Area (IBA code IN-AS-11) by the International Bird Conservation Network & Bombay Natural History Society.

The organization was part of the Hoolock Gibbon project under the Animal Ecology and Wildlife Biology lab, Department of Zoology, Gauhati University in the year 2003, under which, 34 forests of central Assam was surveyed successfully.

Our members are also participants of the Migrant Watch, an online program to monitor migratory birds across the globe. Green Guard Nature Organization members participated in the 2011 Elephant Census, with Shri Shimanta Goswami designated as Observer for Nagaon South, Nagaon Division & Haflong Division. In 2012, Shri Raj Phukan, Secretary General, participated in the Rhino Census at Orang National Park as a designated enumerator.

An interesting landmark was the documenting of over 20,000 Amur Falcons at one place in the Morigaon district of Assam, which, according to the Oriental Bird Club, London, was a huge improvement on earlier records of the species.

Greater Adjutant Stork Project

Its pioneering work in the field of Greater Adjutant Storks (GAS) is a major landmark in the field of projects related to storks across the world. The project for rescue, rearing and rehabilitation of the injured, sick & fallen GAS nestlings was launched in 2001 and was continued to 2004. The collaborative project between Green Guard Nature Organization & Aaranyak was supported by the US Fish & Wildlife Service and it was perhaps the most successful stork related project undertaken in Asia in the history of conservation. The Greater Adjutant rescue & rehabilitation was subsequently continued to 2007, with extension to cover the nesting colonies of Morigaon district with the help of funding agencies like NoEZS and Oriental Bird Club UK, Club-300 Sweden. In these seven years, 38 GAS chicks and juveniles and one adult bird were rescued, out of which 31 were hand-raised, reared and released back to the wild successfully.


Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation

Green Guard launched a Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) mitigation program in some severely affected villages in the foothills along the Nagaon- Karbi Anglong border areas, in 2005, with the objective of reducing both human and elephant casualties that were on the increase due to the growing intensity of conflict. It was to minimize the use of lethal tools against the elephants and to check incursion, damage and human sufferings that this grassroots based program was launched. Some of the methods initiated by Green Guard are the Early Warning System (EWS) a mid-term intervention method, Chilly Based Repellent (CBR), a quick reaction method and Crop Barrier Fencing (CBF), a long term method beside a number of allied initiatives aimed at mitigation of HEC. These initiatives or techniques have been developed to meet the local requirements and include the setting up of Crop Guard Towers at strategic locations and the provision for training of Driving Groups to deal with intruding elephants.

After the initial success of these tools of HEC mitigation, a project entitled 'Mitigation of Human- Elephant Conflict at the fringe of the Burhapahar Hill Range', a collaborative effort of Green Guard, Dept. of Environment and Forests, Govt. of Assam and the Wildlife Trust of India and funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service through the Wildlife Trust of India, was implemented successfully in the years 2008 to 2010.

The success of these efforts, particularly the Green Guard version of the EWS, was lauded in the press and offers for replicating them came from numerous govt. departments and NGO's in HEC affected areas in India and abroad. In 2009, Green Guard was invited by Forest Protection Committee, Panighata Range, Kurseong Division, Govt. of West Bengal and EWS was installed in Kolibari, Panighata & Zabra areas, near Naxalbari, Darjeeling Dist., West Bengal, with support from the WTI, with successful results. In 2010, Green Guard was back in North Bengal, successfully installing EWS and imparting training on CBR & CBF methods to villagers in Toribari, near Siliguri with local NGOs Spandan, HIMServe and Dept. of Forests, North Bengal, another WTI funded initiative. The Report is available online at http://www.wti.org.in/current-news/110114_Toribari_benefits_from_Early_Warning_System.html. In 2011, a project 'Mitigating Human Elephant Conflict in Singhi Jhora, West Bengal' funded by WTI under its Rapid Action Project (RAP) scheme and endorsed by the Directorate of Forests was successfully implemented by Green Guard and Spandan at Singhi Jhora, Salugara Range, Baikunthpur Division. In the year 2012, a program to install EWS & train villagers in HEC mitigation was successfully concluded in the doars area of West Bengal.

Community Support

Green Guard also initiated an Educational Support Program for the poor, needy children inhabiting the forest villages in the Karbi hill from the year 2004. Under this program, school going children are supplied, blackboards, textbooks, notebooks, pen/pencil, drawing paper etc. Another ongoing project is the Support Program for the Forest Dwellers of Karbi hills under which Green Guard team members constructed a water reservoir at Sambheti & Therebasa villages of Karbi hills. Besides, in an effort to increase productivity the impoverished forest dwellers are supplied high quality vegetable seeds every year.

Conducted teachers training programme for 40 higher secondary level teachers of Nagaon district under ‘the National Green Corps programme’ formation of Eco-clubs funded by Ministry of Environment and Forest in the year 2002. Designated nodal NGO for the National Green Corps training implementation programme of MoEF, Govt. of India for Morigaon district. Under the project, 100 higher secondary level teachers were trained and 100 numbers of Eco clubs was formed under the programme in June 2003.

Our organization has ensured celebration of various events on the environment calendar, like the World Environment Day, Earth Day, Wildlife Week, Ban Mohotsav, Wetlands Day, etc., with community participation at the grassroots level. We regularly observe these days with school children and local villagers at the Karbi foothills.

Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation

Wildlife rescue has been one of the primary interests since the formation of Green Guard and we have regularly rescued wild animals from fields, trappers, poachers, hunters etc. We have central Zoo Authority certification to handle the rescued animals.
We have rescued several animals, including two Leopard cubs, one Moon Bear cub, one Serow, several Barking Deer, Hares, Pythons, King Cobra, Monocled Cobras, several Banded Krait, numerous turtles & tortoises, several Slow Loris, two Chinese Pangolin, several Grey Peacock Pheasants, Wreathed Hornbills, various Owls, innumerable number of different species of birds, etc. during the last two decades and more.

Departmental Support

Green Guard has been most active in providing all kinds of support to the Forest Department, Assam, in conducting anti poaching activities, survey and census, documentation of biodiversity in the protected and unprotected areas and collection of information related to wildlife crimes. Besides participation in various Tiger Census, Elephant Census and Bird Survey programs at the Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, the Burhachapori Wildlife Sanctuary & the Kaziranga- Karbi Anglong Elephant Reserve the organization has also documented the avifaunal diversity of these areas. Provision of torch lights, fire crackers, etc., and participation in joint HEC mitigation efforts at Chapanala, Salna, Koliabor, Kothiatoli, Bamuni, etc., joint plantation programs, joint monitoring & observation of important days in the environmental calendar are other areas of cooperation.

Major Activities in 2012
1) Winter waterfowl survey in selected wetlands of Nagaon & Morigaon districts.
2) Documentation of tree felling activities in Karbi foothills (Reported in Sancturay Asia).
3) Participation in Rhino Census, Orang National Park.
4) Trekking & bird survey in the Karbi foothills on Earth Day.
5) Trek into Swang R.F. for documentation of wildlife; located a Hoolock Gibbon family.
6) Rescue of Chinese Pangolin from poachers.
7) Visit to Mulaikathoni, Kokilamukh, Jorhat, to meet the Forest Man of India, Shri Jadav Payeng. Our organization gave him an Lifetime Achievement Award comprising of a certificate, a xorai, gamusa, cash Rs. 2000 & honorary lifetime membership of our organization.
8) Celebration of World Environment Day with a two-day programme at Chapanala, Nagaon. On the first day, a drawing competition for school students was organized, followed by a plantation program with the active participation of forest personnel, local communities & tea garden management of the area. On the second day, Forest Man of Inida, accompanied by environmentalist journalist Jitu Kalita and others addressed a huge gathering of school students from various schools at the Chapanala H.S. School, and also participated in a plantation program. Other events included an audio-visual presentation, poster contest, slogan contest, etc.
9) Another tree plantation program with community participation on Bon Mahotsav.
10) Documentation of animal poaching during floods at Morigaon district.
11) Avifaunal survey of the Silghat forest.
12) Documentation of Elephant killing at Swang R.F.
13) Rescue of endangered turtles at Morigaon.
14) Avifaunal survey of Chapanala sal forest.
15) Bird survey, Borajan & Bharjan forests, Tinsukia & Digboi forest reserve.
16) Greater Adjutant Stork non-breeding season survey of Upper Assam districts.
17) Visit to Panpur, Jamogurighat, visit to the 6th extension of Kaziranga NP, North Bank, & formation of Green Guard unit, Jamogurighat.
18) Rescue of Banded Kraits, Monocled Cobras, Chapanala.
19) Rescue of turtles, cobra, rat snake, Jamogurighat.
20) Plantation program in collaboration with Rotary Club of Nagaon.
21) Documentation of Human-Elephant conflict; during the year one person was killed while several houses were destroyed by elephants in the Karbi foothills.
22) Documentation of Leopard attack that wiped out the entire livestock of a family.
23) Press release to protest the Kaziranga rhino killings. (Amar Axom)
24) Participation in NGOs dharna to protest rhino killings and demand action.
25) Publication of a leaflet entitled ‘Know your natural heritage’, an awareness initiative, to commemorate World Wildlife Week comprising of a list of critically endangered & endangered mammals & birds of Assam and distribution among students of 7 junior colleges & 3 leading private schools of Assam.