The savanna grasslands of peninsular India are unique habitats that support a vast proportion of India’s agro-pastoralist community. They are also home to critically endangered species such as the Indian bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) and lesser florican (Sypheotides indica) and other endangered and endemic species such as the Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes), Indian fox (Vulpes bengalensis), and blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra). Unfortunately, these grasslands have not received the level of attention from conservationists or policy makers that is necessary, resulting in a lack of protection for endangered and endemic wildlife that occupy this habitat.This is both a result of explosive growth of agriculture, industry and urbanization as well as a mis-guided policy framework that declares these grasslands, scrub and thorn forests as “waste” or “unproductive land”.
The management and conservation of these fragmented and human-dominated regions requires delineation of high-priority habitats where populations of endangered species are most likely to persist in the long-term. Because of the multiple-use nature of these landscapes, conservation strategies also need to incorporate human use that is compatible with wildlife conservation within the planning framework.
In this workshop, we will bring together some of the top scientists and managers working in this field to showcase their research and management. It is hoped that this knowledge sharing and dialogue will result not only in a better understanding of the conservation issues, but also allow the framing of actionable, site specific interventions that are based on sound science.
Students are invited to attend this workshop so that they can learn about the ecology of savanna ecosystems, and problems associated with their conservation and management and also about conservation planning. However, due to time constraints, interactions between students and the resource persons during the workshop will be limited.
1) Review the status of semi-arid savanna grasslands in India
2) Review state-of-knowledge of key obligate grassland species (Wolf, Blackbuck, Indian Bustard, Harrier species)
3) Agro-pastoralism and grassland conservation: finding common ground
4) Review the Guidelines for the Bustard Recovery Program vis-a-vis its implications for grassland conservation and associated fauna.
5) Review past and current conservation and management strategies, successes and failures: What is the way forward?
Each speaker will speak for 15 minutes followed by 10 minutes of questions and discussion
9:00 - Welcome and Introduction: Abi Vanak
9:10 - Opening remarks: Nigel Collar
9:30 - Status of grasslands in central India: Abi Vanak
9:55 - Status of Bustards in India: Sutirtha Datta
10:20 - Status of migratory grassland birds: T. Ganesh
10:45 - Legal challenges to conserving grasslands: Bhargavi Rao
11:10 - Tea break (15 Mins)
11:25 - Status of blackbuck in India: Kavita Isvaran
11:50 - Human-wildlife conflict in grassland ecosystems: Krithi Karanth
12:10 - Nomadic pastoralists and their links with dry grasslands: Nitya Gotge
12:35 - Pastoralist perspective of grassland ecology: Kalyan Varma
1:00 – Summary discussion of morning session
1:15 PM to 2:00 PM- Lunch
2:00 - Conservation of grasslands and associated fauna – management challenges: G.S. Bhardwaj (To be confirmed)
2:25 – Guidelines for recovery of Resident Bustards: Sutirtha Datta
2:50 – Discussion on implications of guidelines for grassland conservation
3:05 - Tea break
3:20 – Final Discussion on Conservation of grasslands and associated fauna – the way forward
4:00 – Closing remarks
Organisers: Dr. Abi Tamim Vanak, National Environment Sciences Fellow, ATREE.
Special invitee: Dr. Nigel Collar, Chairman, IUCN Bustard Specialist Group