When Covid – 19 struck India and sudden lockdown came into effect MPTFS ran a campaign to provide relief, by distributing ration packets, to frontline staff of forest department, daily wagers, guides, drivers and communities living in or near the protected areas of Madhya Pradesh. The campaign helped beneficiaries to fight COVID-19 pandemic by solving problems related to accessing basic ration in the wake of lockdowns, to some extent. Highlights of the campaign-
- The society helped around 7350 individuals (frontline staff, daily wagers, families of communities, guides & drivers) in PAs of Madhya Pradesh.
- A total donation of around 72.5 lacs was raised from April to May 2020
- More than 400 individuals/organizations contributed in the campaign.
Rationale of the campaign
When the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spread across many countries worldwide and was declared as a pandemic,to stop its spread, Government of India declared several lockdowns. Though necessary it still affected all sections of the society as they faced problems related to essential services. The intensity of such problems was relatively higher for frontline staff of forest department, daily wagers, community living in or near Protected Areas (PAs) and guides and drivers (due to their dependency on tourism activities). Front-line staff lives in camps in remote locations inside forests and access their basic needs through local weekly markets in nearby village or town. Due to lockdowns, local markets were not available for their basic needs.
It was essential that the PA’s Management should be working on full staff capacity due to various reasons. Firstly, the risk of incidence of forest fires were high due to summer season. Secondly, wild animals were frequently straying in populated areas which could led to human-wildlife conflict. This was evident around the world amid lockdowns.Further, tourism sector faced maximum brunt due to the pandemic as Tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries of Madhya Pradesh are major wildlife tourism destinations in India. The pandemic has also affected the lives drivers, guides, daily wagers etc. due to lockdowns across the country and disruption in tourism activities. They also faced problems related to access to ration, grocery and medical facilities as they are in remote locations.
MPTFS started a Covid Relief Campaign and categorized it in two phases. In the first phase, MPTFS addressed the need of access to ration for helping frontline staff and other needy ones by channelizing donation from willing donors towards the Department’s Field Offices and Local resource persons such as grocery suppliers. MPTFS played the role of an enabler to bridge the gap between the needy ones and the donors.
In the second phase, MPTFS is addressed the issue of income losses faced by guides and drivers working in tiger reserves/national parks of Madhya Pradesh by raising funds through donations to provide employment to guides and drivers. Under this, park management took up infrastructural works for creating wages-based work opportunities for drivers and guides. This helped guides and drivers in earning livelihood and at the same time create permanent assets for better management.
In our crusade, we received support from our partner organization, NGOs and individuals. We highly appreciate their contribution towards wildlife conservation in Madhya Pradesh. Their contribution has supported our front-line staff and many families to fight the pandemic. We are grateful for their contribution.