What if you are a scientist doing field work in the forest, but you don’t find the route on Google Maps? On a quiet and cold night in the core area of Corbett National Park, our vehicle was shaking on an unfamiliar road when the driver said:Chi Chang lagta hai galat rasta pakad liya humne ..!“He said he thought we were on the wrong path, and I had a camera to retrieve it, so the words the driver wanted to say were the last things I wanted to hear.
When Sonu worked hard to get on the right path, I tried to piece together every detail I could collect, hoping to find a solution. After nearly 20 minutes of futile driving and mental work, I remembered that I mapped the entire route to deployed camera traps in Locus Map. Locus Map is a popular GPS-based mapping application that many researchers have shared. Use in this case. We took another 15 minutes to make a detour and finally reached the desired location. I took off the camera trap and climbed back into the car. When browsing the photos, I was not sure what brought me more relief and happiness at that time. The beautifully captured tiger image in the camera or the trajectory map in the phone was still open on the screen.
As researchers, we usually use this application to mark important locations, such as camera trap deployment, animal dens, river sources or more generally specific remote village sites. Two years ago, I came across this app during a study on the ecology of Indian gray wolves in collaboration with Tiger Watch. My goal is to evaluate the habitat use of Indian gray wolves in the Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS). I used a software called ArcGIS to place a grid of 4×4 square kilometers on the entire study area of 684 square kilometers, but handheld GPS does not allow all grids to be displayed at the same time. A researcher working in the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, a field biologist came to my camp,
“Suno, tum Locus Map download karo. Ye baaki jhanjhat mein mat pado. “(Just download the trajectory map). “It uses the phone’s GPS to detect a person’s current location. It has a huge library of map resources from all over the world, and the best thing is that it can work even without an internet connection. You install it and then see for yourself,” he said.
I quickly became proficient in the application. I imported the grid file into the application, where I can see all 48 grids at the same time, just like I want. Although it seems easy to view the 48 grids together now, traversing each grid to collect data about the wolf’s direct and indirect signs, while also recording the entire walking trajectory, seems to me to mark important positions during the journey. A difficult task. Therefore, I contacted some wild animal volunteers from KWS villages from Tiger Watch. I imparted the newly discovered knowledge of trajectory graphs to volunteers and trained them in the correct use without confuse them. I marked some locations as landmarks to make it easier for them to find the starting point of the grid.
With 5 grids per day, each grid spanning 10-12 kilometers, we can cover all grids in the next ten days. The data was stored securely in the app and produced some amazing results. We can record and mark the traces of wolves, hyenas, foxes, chinkara, nilgai, golden wolves, hares, bears, leopards and even tigers.
Hiking in remote forests to collect data about animal positions can be very challenging, and it is often difficult for me to remember the route taken after a few kilometers of walking. In this era, although traditional handheld GPS navigation devices are not very user-friendly and do not provide comprehensive maps like the latter, which enables people to “know”, technologies such as GPS and trajectory maps provide The much needed help. The upcoming terrain, what the route looks like, its length, elevation profile, etc. I use it from time to time to click on pictures and geotag them for future reference.
Limiting the relevance of trajectory maps to wildlife research is a felony in my opinion, because I also actively use it in recreational trekking and hiking. In this case, I recommend it to a friend of mine. The user-friendliness of the app makes it her favorite. For a person who is not good at remembering directions, a little understanding of this kind of life-saving technology is not harmful to her.
In today’s world, life without technology may be unimaginable. However, letting it control our lives may not be the wisest choice, especially during forest adventures. Once during data collection on elephant dung, my eyes were glued to the mobile screen to continuously record data, and for a moment I forgot that I was in the forest. While walking along the cross-section line, I suddenly encountered a group of elephants crossing the cross-section. Anyone who has experienced fierce beasts chasing them into the unknown forest will not mind throwing their phones to save their lives!
Prashant Mahajan has a master’s degree in wildlife science from Aligarh Muslim University, in addition to a master’s degree in zoology from Delhi University and a writer. He has studied wolf ecology in Rajasthan and is a member of the research team of the “All India Tiger Monitoring” project of the Indian Wildlife Research Institute. Currently, he is a project researcher at the Wildlife Research Institute of India.
Juno Negi is a researcher and blogger. He received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Delhi and completed a postgraduate course in anthropology. He is currently a junior researcher at the Indian Institute of Wildlife Research.
This series is a project initiated by the Nature Conservation Foundation under its Nature Communication Program to encourage natural content in all Indian languages. If you are interested in writing articles about nature and birds, please fill out this form.
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