FI News & Updates

Mini-DETECT Training for Jharkhand Forest Officers

Posted by Kartika Rana on 20 Jul 2017 

Thirty-one officers of the Jharkhand Forest Department were trained on crime scene processing techniques and court procedures, in Bokaro, Jharkhand, by Freeland India on May 2017.

P1100343-e1500541271201Trainees participating in team building exercises

The officers, from the ranks of Range Forest Officers to Assistant Conservator of Forests, practiced on a realistically set up poacher camp and suspect vehicle to thoroughly and systematically search for evidence against suspected traffickers. After gathering evidence and building their team case files, the trainees defended their cases before a hostile defence lawyer in a mock trial.

P1100412-e1500539993386Delighted trainees of Jharkhand Forest Department along with Freeland India trainers

Freeland India specialises in hands-on, practice based training for law enforcement personnel. The training in Jharkhand was tailored to deliver maximum amounts of pertinent instruction in a short time period.

“Most wildlife cases in India fail because the prosecution relies on human rather than physical evidence,” says Onkuri Majumdar, Managing Director of Freeland India. “Our trainings focus on creating a strong case that will result in conviction despite unreliable human witnesses, delays and transfers of investigating officers”.

DSC00096-e1500540587613Trainees collecting forensic evidence

For further details, please contact Kartika Rana at kartika@freeland.org.


Freeland Trains 70 Young Range Officers on Crime Scene Processing

Posted by Kartika Rana on 27 Jun 2016

Freeland India experts trained almost 70 young range officers from five southern Indian states on wildlife crime scene processing techniques at Kaziranga National Park, Assam, in March 2016.

0-7-1024x682Young range officers participate enthusiastically in the crime scene processing demonstration

The young trainee Range Officers, visiting Kaziranga as part of their travels through northeast India, were in for a surprise when, instead of an evening lecture, they enacted a crime scene. Trainees were taught how to create a team to safely and thoroughly process a crime scene and collect evidence.

0-8-1024x684All in a day’s work for Freeland — 70 surprise trainees!

The trainees gave overwhelmingly positive feedback for the informal and interactive session. For the Freeland team, it was a welcome opportunity to interact with, and train, future guardians of wildlife.

For more information contact: india@freeland.org


Anti-Poaching and Wildlife Crime Investigation for Assam

Posted by Kartika Rana on 21 Jun 2016 

Freeland India, together with Aaranyak, conducted an intensive six day anti-poaching and wildlife crime investigation training for 21 forest personnel in Kaziranga National Park, Assam, in March 2016.

The trainees, from Kaziranga National Park, Manas Tiger Reserve, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and Kokrajhar, Nagaon, Mangaldai and Digboi Wildlife Divisions, spent a week working their way through intense, realistic scenarios to prepare them for their demanding work.

0-1-11-1024x682Fieldcraft lessons

Tasked with defending some of the last strongholds of the endangered Indian Rhinoceros, the trainees were put through a demanding schedule that included modules on: leadership, esprit-de-corps, fieldcraft, patrol drills, information gathering, crime scene processing, surveillance, planned raids, case preparation and facing cross examination.

KAZIRANGA-FORENSIC-1-1024x682Practicing crime scene processing

Shri Suvasish Das, DFO of Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, handed out certificates to trainees who completed the course.

“The enforcement response needs to be as organised and focused as that of criminals who target the animals”, says Onkuri Majumdar, Managing Director of  Freeland India. “Otherwise, we run the risk of a few criminal syndicates undoing years of field conservation efforts.”

KAZIRANGA-FORENSIC-FIELD-7-1024x640Gathering evidence at a mock crime scene

The course was conducted under Freeland India’s flagship PROTECT- DETECT training programme. While the PROTECT anti-poaching training equips trainees to safely and effectively carry out patrolling tasks in forests, the DETECT wildlife crime investigation training enables officers to comprehensively investigate and prosecute wildlife crimes. Aaranyak‘s specialists in Assam wildlife law and forensics added their knowledge to the resource team.

KAZIRANGA-T-U-A-9-1024x640Facing cross-examination

The training was conducted by Freeland India and Aaranyak at the Kohora Centenary Convention Centre, Kaziranga National Park, with support from the Assam Forest Department and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

For more information contact: india@freeland.org


Freeland’s Director attends SMART training in Nepal

Posted by Onkuri on 3 May 2016 

(27 February 2016 )
Uttara Mendiratta, Co-Director, Freeland India, attended the South Asia Training of Trainers Workshop in SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool), held from 22nd – 26th February 2016 at Chitwan National Park, Nepal.

The workshop provided participants with hands-on experience in the use of SMART software to perform Law Enforcement Monitoring (LEM) tasks. SMART is a freely available software application that is designed to improve the ability of protected area agencies to combat poaching through a suite of best practices. It can be used by managers to plan, evaluate and implement activities and promote good governance. SMART has been designed by a team of software engineers in collaboration with conservation scientists and conservation managers. The trainers at the Chitwan workshop were drawn from the pool of experts in the SMART partnership.

Participants were trained in the basics of how to create and configure conservation area in SMART, populate it with patrol data, perform analysis of the data and prepare reports. The overall goal was to provide participants with sufficient knowledge to be able to train other users on how to implement and use SMART. Mendiratta adds, “We look forward to helping Indian protected area managers in the use of SMART. The software is user-friendly and can be a great tool for managing and streamlining patrolling activities and enable better accountability.”

Copy-of-SMART-Tr-RhinoMendiratta (extreme right) during field data collection

The workshop was attended by representatives from NGOs and government agencies from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and UAE. In addition to the software training, the workshop provided a platform for lively debates on best practices in field protection. A presentation by the Nepal Army, which has been entrusted with protection of protected areas such as Chitwan, provided insights on how patrolling activities in Nepal have been managed using a combination of mobile devices, phone networks and software to result in effective anti-poaching measures. These have perhaps enabled Chitwan to enjoy a long period of ‘zero rhino poaching’.

For many of the participants, a major bonus at the workshop was the sight of wild rhinos wallowing in the river during the coffee breaks. Not to mention it’s not always that the group photo of a workshop includes a wild rhino!

Copy-of-Nepal_Group-Photo-1024x452Mendiratta (standing, extreme right) in a group photo of all the participants


Freeland Trains Young Range Officers on Investigation and Law

Posted by Onkuri on 15 Feb 2016 

(6 February, 2016)
Experts from Freeland India trained up to 50 young Range Officers on crime scene processing and law at the Tamil Nadu Forest Academy, Coimbatore, on 6 February 2016. The trainees, from several states, were given the special classes by Freeland as part of the Director’s initiative to ensure they were exposed to as many real life scenarios as possible.

The class focused on safe, thorough and evidence based crime scene processing and included practical exercises by students. These were followed by a session on best courtroom practices, including a mock cross-examination. “Field level officers have a critical role in curtailing poaching, and investigation, if done in proper procedure, will lead to higher conviction rate, boosting the morale of front line staff”, said Talish Ray, Legal Advisor with Freeland India.

IMG_4415_ed_1-1024x520Classroom session in progress

The Freeland team was present at the Academy to participate in India’s first National Workshop on Capacity Building for Combating Wildlife Crime organized by TRAFFIC in partnership with the Tamil Nadu Forest Department, Tamil Nadu Forest Academy, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, and WWF-India, from 4th – 6th February 2016 at the Tamil Nadu Forest Academy in Coimbatore. It was attended by about a 100 forest, police and intelligence officers and personnel from border security forces from 18 states of the country.

IMG_4425_ed_3The Freeland Team at the Tamil Nadu Forest Academy

At the workshop, Onkuri Majumdar, Managing Director of Freeland India, shared best practices and lessons learnt from ASEAN-WEN (Association of South East Asian Nations – Wildlife Enforcement Network) for its potential applications in SAWEN (South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network). Ms. Majumdar, along with Ms. Uttara Mendiratta, Director of Freeland India, also participated in panel discussions on how NGOs could honestly and competently assist enforcement efforts, as well as on the often neglected trade in non-flagship species.

On the final day of the workshop, the Freeland team jointly conducted a practical crime scene investigation exercise for all participants, leading them through different realistic wildlife crime scenarios.

© Freeland India

© Freeland India

Freeland Experts setting up the mock crime scene

IMG_20160206_101527_ed_2Participants at the practical crime scene investigation exercise along with experts from Freeland

For more information on our trainings, contact: india@freeland.org


Freeland’s Study Throws Fresh Light on Gravity of Turtle Trade

Posted by Onkuri on 10 Feb 2016 

(20 January, 2016)
Vallari Sheel, Project Officer with Freeland India, presented the organisation’s latest study on illegal turtle and tortoise trade in India and Bangladesh, at the YETI (Young Ecologists Talk and Interact) 2016 conference.

Freeland India’s presentation attracted great interest from students, researchers and scientists. The soon-to-be released study has found several species of turtles and tortoises of India involved in a burgeoning illegal trade, in both India and Bangladesh. The study takes a comprehensive look at species involved, geographic spread of trade, trade networks and markets. This little-talked-about subject drew several questions from the audience, such as on contribution of different species to this trade, economics of the trade, and status of legal trade in certain species. Students and experts lauded the presentation for elucidating the trade in these species.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Many participants also approached Sheel with their own personal field experiences regarding this trade. “It was great to see the interest this presentation generated amongst the audience, since this topic is poorly understood and needs to be looked into in greater detail,” said Sheel. “It helped in starting a conversation which we hope will continue beyond the conference itself,” she added.

YETI is a conference for students and researchers of ecology and conservation in India, organized by student volunteers from across the country. The conference features talks, presentations and several workshops. It serves as a platform for students and ecologists to present and discuss their work, exchange ideas, and strike up collaborations. The 2016 edition of the conference was held over a period of four days from 17th – 20th January at Amity University, Noida.


Freeland’s Director Awarded by National Geographic

Posted by Onkuri on 26 Jun 2015 

NG-speech

Onkuri Majumdar, Freeland India’s Managing Director, was chosen as an Emerging Explorer in 2015. The award comes as recognition of her years of work on anti wildlife trafficking.

Find out more:

Emerging Explorers 2015

Onkuri Majumdar


Officers Learn Sophisticated Investigation Techniques

Posted by Onkuri on 4 Feb 2015 

(18 October 2014)
Forest and police officers from Madhya Pradesh learnt sophisticated new wildlife crime investigation techniques during a four-day training conducted by the Police Radio Training School (PRTS) and Freeland India in October 2014.

The 36 trainees, all drawn from postings around important tiger reserves, spent an intensive four days acquiring information and practicing skills focused on digital techniques, covert equipment, professional investigation and enforcement techniques, and court practices.

P1080488-1024x768Trainees and trainers

Freeland’s groundbreaking training aims to equip officials with skills and experience to face tricky and potentially dangerous enforcement situations. Based on theory followed by extensive and realistic practice sessions, the course was unlike any the trainees had previously experienced and garnered excellent reviews.

Inspector General of Police, Varun Kapoor, head of the PRTS and a co-trainer at the course felt, “The course was tailor-made to the needs of the trainees and taught them important skills through innovative methods.”

The trainees –  27 police officials of Inspector and Sub-Inspector ranks, and 9 forest personnel of Range Forest Officers and Assistant Conservator of Forests ranks – got to practice hands-on sessions on surveillance, crime scene processing and cross-examination.

P10809351-768x1024Trainees process a crime scene

“It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the trainees especially when they realised how interesting and realistic the modules were,” said Onkuri Majumdar, Managing Director of Freeland India. “Our mandate is the eradication of wildlife crime in the country and a key factor in achieving that goal is to have well-trained and committed enforcement personnel.”

The modules were selected on the basis of suitability for participants from Freeland’s signature DETECT course, a broad training system which equips government investigators to detect and investigate organised wildlife crime.

For more information contact: india@freeland.org

For more information on PRTS, contact: varunkapoor170@gmail.com. Also see www.prts-mppolice.nic.in


Freeland India’s Booth sparks curiosity at Science Conference

Posted by Onkuri on 1 Dec 2014

(30 September 2014)
Freeland India’s eye-catching posters and flyers at the four-day Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS), Bangalore, drew attention from more than 200 participating students, who were intrigued by the idea of wildlife crime suppression.

The conference was held at the JN Tata Auditorium at the Indian Institute of Sciences in Bangalore from 25-28 September 2014. Many participants had encountered wildlife crime during their field research, and were unaware of how and where to report it.

Freeland’s poster, featuring its cutting edge anti-poaching and wildlife investigation training programmes, drew many questions from viewers. Flyers with details of Freeland’s Wildlife Legal Help Centre and training programmes were distributed among the participants.

CAM00680_ed_2-300x218Freeland India’s Poster at the Conference

Visitors to the booth discussed prominent wildlife trade hotspots such as the Crawford Market in Mumbai, the Jama Masjid area in Delhi, and even turtles and tortoises being sold openly in markets of Kolkata, with Project Officer Vallari Sheel. Ms Sheel explained Freeland’s methods of supporting government efforts against wildlife crime. She also informed the participants about how and where they could report wildlife crime.

CAM00674_ed_2-300x244Project Officer Vallari Sheel (left) interacting with participants

“It was gratifying to see the interest our booth generated,” said Sheel, “but also an important reminder of how little knowledge there is about wildlife crime suppression in India”

The Student Conference on Conservation Science was a four day conference for students and early-career researchers, and also scientists, conservation agencies and NGOs. It featured talks, presentations, and workshops on different aspects of conservation research and practice. Freeland India took part in the ‘Who’s Who in Conservation’ session where NGOs, agencies, and institutes working in the field of wildlife and environment conservation showcased their work to inform and engage participants in their work.


Anti-Poaching and Investigations Training for Satpura Tiger Reserve Staff

Posted by Onkuri on 25 Jun 2014 

(12 February 2014)
Twenty-five field staff of the Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India, underwent a nine-day intensive training course in February 2014, which imparted them with the skills to effectively carry out anti-poaching and wildlife crime investigation duties. The trainees ranked from forest guards to foresters and deputy rangers, including two female forest guards.

The course was conducted under Freeland India’s PRTOTECT- DETECT training programme where participants are empowered to carry out patrolling tasks confidently and safely within the forests (PROTECT) and also to comprehensively investigate a wildlife crime (DETECT). This training was specifically aimed at junior level staff (forest guards to foresters) of the Satpura Tiger Reserve.

P1060450_edit-730x1024Trainees practicing signals on patrol

The course was tailor-made for the ranks and mandates of the trainees. Initial theory classes were followed by extensive practical exercises. Course modules covered everything from an introduction to wildlife crime and first aid classes, to field craft, patrolling and actions on encountering violators and wildlife crime investigation.

P1060429-1024x768Trainees learning to build a stretcher during the first aid session

The focus was on building confidence in carrying out anti-poaching activities and on imparting skills to carry out professional and thorough investigations. An overwhelming positive feedback was given by the trainees, with the average rating for each lesson standing over 90%. Trainees also ranked all lessons as 100% relevant to their work.

20140208_153155-1024x768Trainees processing a mock forest crime scene

The course was conducted by Freeland India at the Indira Gandhi Forest Guard Training Institute, Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh, India and supported and hosted by the Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India.  It was co-supported by FREELAND Foundation and WildAid International.


One-day Legal Workshop for staff of Dandeli–Anshi Tiger Reserve (DATR)

Posted by Onkuri on 20 Jun 2014 

(16 March 2013)
Thirty-six forest officials from Dandeli–Anshi Tiger Reserve (DATR) attended a legal workshop organized by Freeland India’s Wildlife Legal Help Centre (WLHC), at the Kulgi Nature Camp in Dandeli, Karnataka on 16th March 2013, troubleshooting their wildlife crime law problems. Hosted by the Karnataka Forest Department, the one day seminar brought together Forest Department officials prosecuting and investigating wildlife crime cases with the legal experts of WLHC.

The participants ranged from senior officers like the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and the Chief Conservator of Forest to the junior ranking forest guards. They represented both wildlife sub-divisions of the tiger reserve, namely Dandeli and Anshi, and also included two members of the Castle Rock Forest Department, which was merged into Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary in 2012.

WLHCs legal experts introduced the participants to the various laws relevant to wildlife crime cases such as Code of Criminal Procedure, Indian Penal Code, Evidence Act, Wild Life (Protection) Act and the Karnataka Forest Act. For many of the young recruits, this was their first introduction to some of these laws. Specific cases currently being dealt with by the department were also discussed. This was followed by a practical session, wherein Investigations and Paperwork were discussed and participants were trained on court presentation.  The seminar was carried out in Kannada and English.

Edited-Kulgi_group-1024x545Participants with resource persons from the WLHC

The WLHC offers free legal advice to Indian enforcement officials investigating and prosecuting wildlife crimes. A toll free number or email (1-800-425-0575 or india@freeland.org ) connects officials with a panel of legal experts who offer advice on their wildlife cases. For maximum impact, the WLHC also sends its experts out to offer advice to many participants at once.

The seminar was conducted as part of the ARREST Program (Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking) sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). FI is the implementing organisation for ARREST activities in South Asia.


Leopard Poacher Nabbed!

Posted by Onkuri on 16 Feb 2013

(25 February 2012)
Mr. Anil Mishra and his colleagues from the Jharkhand Forest Department arrested a poacher and seized a leopard skin in the Naxalite affected Palamau Tiger Reserve.

Says Mr. Mishra, “Our informer tipped us about some poaching activities in the area. We wanted to arrest the poacher as well as seize the skin to make the case stronger. I therefore, decided to act as the decoy customer for the skin. After several rounds of negotiations, which went on for over eight weeks, I could win the confidence of poacher and he agreed to show us the skin. For safety reason, secrecy about the operation was maintained till the very last moment. The effort finally led to the arrest of the poacher along with the seizure of the leopard skin.”

Mr. Mishra attended the PROTECT-Enforcement Training Course in August 2011 and felt that “the training by FREELAND gives me the courage to lead from the front. I used the technique of investigation learnt at the training to extract the name of all poachers and their different role in whole illegal operation. Thanks Freeland, dil se!”

We congratulate him on this courageous effort!

(Photos of suspects may be blurred for legal reasons)


Wildlife Law Troubleshooting Seminar at Bhadra

Posted by Onkuri on 8 Feb 2013 

(15 December 2012)
The Wildlife Legal Help Center’s experts spent a day with 33 officers of Bhadra Tiger Reserve, Karnataka, troubleshooting their wildlife crime law problems. Hosted by the Karnataka Forest Department, the one day seminar brought together Forest Department officials prosecuting and investigating wildlife crime cases with the legal experts of Freeland Trust of India’s Wildlife Legal Help Centre (WLHC).

For many of the young Foresters and Forest Guards, the seminar was the first they had attended since their recruitment. Topics covered included the Wild Life (Protection) Act, Karnataka Forest Act and Evidence Act. The seminar was held in Kannada and English.

2-small1-1024x377Participants with resource persons from the WLHC

The WLHC offers free legal advice to Indian enforcement officials investigating and prosecuting wildlife crimes. A toll free number or email (1-800-425-0575 or india@freeland.org) connects officials with a panel of legal experts who offer advice on their wildlife cases. For maximum impact, the WLHC also sends its experts out to offer advice to many participants at once.

The seminar was conducted as part of the ARREST Program (Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking) sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). FTI is the implementing organisation for ARREST activities in South Asia.


Legal Experts Troubleshoot Wildlife Law Problems

Posted by Onkuri on 8 Feb 2013 

(17 November 2012)
The Wildlife Legal Help Center’s experts spent a day with over 40 officers of Kudremukh Division, troubleshooting their wildlife crime law problems. Hosted by the Karnataka Forest Department, the one day seminarbrought together Forest Department officials prosecuting and investigating wildlife crime cases with the legal experts of Freeland Trust of India’s Wildlife Legal Help Centre (WLHC).

The participants, which included all ranks from middle-management level Deputy Conservator of Forests to junior Forest Guards, were given a brief introduction to the laws most needed for their work. Next, the WLHC’s legal experts distributed important government notifications which would help the officers to make their prosecutions stronger. Finally, the participants brought up their recent or on-going cases, for the legal experts’ advice on how to secure convictions. The seminar was carried out in Kannada and English.

1-smallParticipants and resource persons from the WLHC

The WLHC offers free legal advice to Indian enforcement officials investigating and prosecuting wildlife crimes. A toll free number or email (1-800-425-0575 or india@freeland.org) connects officials with a panel of legal experts who offer advice on their wildlife cases. For maximum impact, the WLHC also sends its experts out to offer advice to many participants at once.

The seminar was conducted as part of the ARREST Program (Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking) sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). FTI is the implementing organisation for ARREST activities in South Asia.