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

What do you do in the event you’re a scientist finishing up fieldwork in forests, removed from routes you will discover on Google Maps? On a quiet and chilly night contained in the Core zone of Corbett Nationwide Park, our automobile 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 mistaken route, and I had a digicam entice 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 proper monitor, I attempted piecing collectively each element I may collect, hoping to seek out the way in which. After near 20 minutes of futile driving and mind racking, I remembered that I had mapped all the route resulting in the deployed digicam traps in Locus Map, a preferred 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 entice and climbed again into the automobile. Going via the pictures, I couldn’t determine 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 extensive open on my display screen.

As researchers we generally use this app for marking essential areas like that of digicam entice deployments, animal den websites, a river supply, or in additional common, a selected distant village web site. I got here throughout this app two years again whereas engaged on the ecology of Indian Gray Wolf as a Venture Affiliate 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 permit all of the grids to be seen on the identical time. A fellow researcher, a area biologist working within the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve got here to my rescue,

The interface of Locus Map
Photograph Credit score: Screenshots by Prashant Mahajan

Suno, tum Locus Map obtain karo. Ye baaki jhanjhat mein mat pado.” (Simply obtain Locus Map). “It makes use of a cellphone’s GPS to detect one’s present location. It has an unlimited repository of maps from all around the world, and the very best factor about it, it really works even with out an Web connection. You put in it, and see for your self,” he mentioned.

Inside no time I used to be nicely 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 needed. Though 48 grids collectively now appeared straightforward, strolling via every of them to gather knowledge on wolf’s direct and oblique indicators, whereas additionally recording the overall walked monitor, marking the essential areas on the way in which appeared a frightening process to me. So, I approached some wildlife volunteers from the KWS villages working with Tiger Watch. I handed on my new discovered data 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 place to begin of the grid.

At 5 grids per day, traversing 10-12 kms in every grid, we had been in a position to cowl all of the grids within the subsequent ten days. The information was safely saved within the app and yielded some superb outcomes. We had been in a position to 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 could be fairly difficult and I’ve typically 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 on. present the much-needed help, though standard handheld GPS navigation gadgets should not a lot user-friendly and don’t present complete maps not like the latter which does it enabling one to ‘know’ the upcoming terrain, how the route appears like, its size, elevation profile and so on. Once in a while, I click on footage utilizing it and geotag them simply for future reference.

prashant locus tusker elephant

A male tusker at Corbett Nationwide Park
Photograph Credit score: 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 mountain climbing and trekking journeys too. On one such event, I really helpful it to one in every of my pals. The user-friendliness of the app has made it a favorite together with her. For somebody who’s unhealthy at remembering instructions, slightly data of life-saving applied sciences like these has finished her no hurt. 

A life with out expertise within the current world would maybe be unimaginable. However to let it take management over our lives may not be the wisest possibility, particularly throughout forest explorations. As soon as throughout knowledge assortment on elephant dung, I had my eyes glued to the cell display screen to document knowledge constantly and for a second forgot I used to be in a forest. Strolling alongside the transect line I immediately encountered a herd of elephants passing via the transect. Anybody 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 Grasp’s diploma in Wildlife Sciences from Aligarh Muslim College, apart from being a graduate in Zoology from the Delhi College, 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. At present he’s a Venture 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 College of Delhi. At present working as a Junior Analysis Fellow on the Wildlife Institute of India.

This sequence is an initiative by the Nature Conservation Basis, below their programme Nature Communication to encourage nature content material in all Indian languages. Should you’re concerned with writing on nature and birds, please replenish this type.


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