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

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What do you do when 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 stated, “Sir ji! lagta hai galat rasta pakad liya humne..!” He stated he thought we had been on the incorrect route, and I had a digital camera lure 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 suitable observe, I attempted piecing collectively each element I might collect, hoping to search out the best way. After near 20 minutes of futile driving and mind racking, I remembered that I had mapped all the route resulting in the deployed digital camera 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 at last attain the specified location. I took off the digital camera lure and climbed again into the automobile. Going by 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 digital camera, or the Locus Map in my cellphone nonetheless huge open on my display.

As researchers we generally use this app for marking vital areas like that of digital camera lure deployments, animal den websites, a river supply, or in additional basic, a selected distant village website. I got here throughout this app two years again whereas engaged on the ecology of Indian Gray Wolf as a Mission 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 research space spanning 684 sq. km, however the handheld GPS didn’t enable all of the grids to be seen on the similar time. A fellow researcher, a area biologist working within the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve got here to my rescue,

The interface of Locus Map
Picture 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 enormous repository of maps from everywhere in the world, and the perfect factor about it, it really works even with out an Web connection. You put in it, and see for your self,” he stated.

Inside no time I used to be properly versed with the appliance. I imported my grid file to the app, and there they had been, all 48 grids seen on the similar time, simply as I had needed. Though taking a look at 48 grids collectively now appeared simple, strolling by every of them to gather information on wolf’s direct and oblique indicators, whereas additionally recording the whole walked observe, marking the vital areas on the best way appeared a frightening activity to me. So, I approached some wildlife volunteers from the KWS villages working with Tiger Watch. I handed on my new discovered information 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 start line of the grid.

At 5 grids per day, traversing 10-12 kms in every grid, we had been capable of cowl all of the grids within the subsequent ten days. The info was safely saved within the app and yielded some superb outcomes. We had been capable of 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 information assortment on animal areas may be fairly difficult and I’ve usually had issue remembering the route taken after a number of kilometres of strolling. In occasions like these, applied sciences like GPS, Locus Map and so forth. present the much-needed assist, though standard handheld GPS navigation units will not be 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 seems to be like, its size, elevation profile and so forth. From time to time, I click on footage utilizing it and geotag them simply for future reference.

prashant locus tusker elephant

A male tusker at Corbett Nationwide Park
Picture Credit score: Prashant Mahajan

To restrict the relevance of Locus Map to the world of wildlife analysis could be a felony on my half, as I’ve actively used it on leisure mountaineering and trekking journeys too. On one such event, I really helpful it to one in all 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 information of life-saving applied sciences like these has executed her no hurt. 

A life with out know-how within the current world would maybe be unimaginable. However to let it take management over our lives may not be the wisest choice, particularly throughout forest explorations. As soon as throughout information assortment on elephant dung, I had my eyes glued to the cell display to report information repeatedly and for a second forgot I used to be in a forest. Strolling alongside the transect line I instantly encountered a herd of elephants passing by 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, moreover being a graduate in Zoology from the Delhi College, and a writer. He has labored on the ecology of wolves in Rajasthan and was part of the analysis crew of the “All India Tiger Monitoring” challenge with Wildlife Institute of India. At present he’s a Mission 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. When you’re interested by writing on nature and birds, please refill this form.

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