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

What do you do in case you’re a scientist finishing up fieldwork in forests, removed from routes you could find on Google Maps? On a quiet and chilly night inside the Core zone of Corbett National Park, our car 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 have been on the fallacious route, and I had a digicam lure to retrieve, so these phrases from my driver have been the final thing I hoped to listen to.

As Sonu struggled to hit the proper monitor, I attempted piecing collectively each element I might collect, hoping to seek out the manner. After near 20 minutes of futile driving and mind racking, I remembered that I had mapped the complete 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 at last attain the desired location. I took off the digicam lure and climbed again into the car. Going via the images, I couldn’t resolve what introduced extra reduction and happiness to me at that second, the fantastically captured photographs of tigers in the digicam, or the Locus Map in my cellphone nonetheless large open on my display.

As researchers we generally use this app for marking essential areas like that of digicam lure deployments, animal den websites, a river supply, or in extra normal, a specific distant village website. I got here throughout this app two years again whereas engaged on the ecology of Indian Grey Wolf as a Project Associate with Tiger Watch. My goal was to evaluate the habitat use of Indian-grey wolf inside 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 complete examine space spanning 684 sq. km, however the handheld GPS didn’t permit all the grids to be seen at the identical time. A fellow researcher, a area biologist working in the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve got here to my rescue,

The interface of Locus Map
Photo Credit: Screenshots by Prashant Mahajan

Suno, tum Locus Map download karo. Ye baaki jhanjhat mein mat pado.” (Just obtain Locus Map). “It uses a phone’s GPS to detect one’s current location. It has a vast repository of maps from all over the world, and the best thing about it, it works even without an Internet connection. You install it, and see for yourself,” he mentioned.

Within no time I used to be effectively versed with the utility. I imported my grid file to the app, and there they have been, all 48 grids seen at the identical time, simply as I had needed. Although 48 grids collectively now appeared simple, strolling via every of them to gather information on wolf’s direct and oblique indicators, whereas additionally recording the whole walked monitor, marking the essential areas on the manner appeared a frightening job 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 have been in a position to cowl all the grids in the subsequent ten days. The information was safely saved in the app and yielded some superb outcomes. We have 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 information assortment on animal areas will be fairly difficult and I’ve usually had issue remembering the route taken after a number of kilometres of strolling. In instances like these, applied sciences like GPS, Locus Map and many others. present the much-needed support, though typical handheld GPS navigation gadgets usually are 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 to be like like, its size, elevation profile and many others. Every 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 National Park
Photo Credit: 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 climbing and trekking journeys too. On one such event, I advisable it to one in all my associates. The user-friendliness of the app has made it a favorite along with her. For somebody who’s dangerous at remembering instructions, somewhat data of life-saving applied sciences like these has performed her no hurt. 

A life with out know-how in the current world would maybe be unimaginable. But to let it take management over our lives won’t be the wisest choice, particularly throughout forest explorations. Once throughout information assortment on elephant dung, I had my eyes glued to the cell display to file information repeatedly and for a second forgot I used to be in a forest. Walking alongside the transect line I instantly encountered a herd of elephants passing via the transect. Anyone 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 Master’s diploma in Wildlife Sciences from Aligarh Muslim University, in addition to being a graduate in Zoology from the Delhi University, 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” mission with Wildlife Institute of India. Currently he’s a Project 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 University of Delhi. Currently working as a Junior Research Fellow at the Wildlife Institute of India.

This collection is an initiative by the Nature Conservation Foundation, underneath their programme Nature Communication to encourage nature content material in all Indian languages. If you are in writing on nature and birds, please refill this form.

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