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

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What do you do in the event 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 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 mistaken route, and I had a digicam lure to retrieve, so these phrases from my driver have been the very last thing I hoped to listen to.

As Sonu struggled to hit the suitable monitor, I attempted piecing collectively each element I might collect, hoping to search out the way in which. After near 20 minutes of futile driving and mind racking, I remembered that I had mapped the whole route resulting in the deployed digicam traps in Locus Map, a well-liked 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 digicam lure and climbed again into the car. Going by way of the pictures, I couldn’t determine what introduced extra aid and happiness to me at that second, the superbly captured photos of tigers within the digicam, or the Locus Map in my cellphone nonetheless extensive open on my display screen.

As researchers we generally use this app for marking vital places like that of digicam lure deployments, animal den websites, a river supply, or in additional normal, a selected distant village web site. 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 contained in the Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS). I used a software program known 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 permit all of the grids to be seen on the identical time. A fellow researcher, a subject biologist working within the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve got here to my rescue,

locus interface locus map

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 properly versed with the appliance. I imported my grid file to the app, and there they have been, all 48 grids seen on the identical time, simply as I had needed. Although taking a look at 48 grids collectively now appeared straightforward, strolling by way of every of them to gather knowledge on wolf’s direct and oblique indicators, whereas additionally recording the overall walked monitor, marking the vital places on the way in which 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 data of Locus Map to the volunteers and educated them on its correct use with out making it complicated for them. I marked some places 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 have been in a position to cowl all of the grids within the subsequent ten days. The knowledge was safely saved within 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 knowledge assortment on animal places may be fairly difficult and I’ve typically had problem remembering the route taken after a number of kilometres of strolling. In instances like these, applied sciences like GPS, Locus Map and so forth. present the much-needed assist, though standard handheld GPS navigation gadgets are usually 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 seems like, its size, elevation profile and so forth. Every from time to time, I click on photos 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 mountain climbing and trekking journeys too. On one such event, I beneficial it to certainly one of my buddies. The user-friendliness of the app has made it a favorite along with her. For somebody who’s unhealthy at remembering instructions, slightly data of life-saving applied sciences like these has carried out her no hurt. 

A life with out know-how within 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 knowledge assortment on elephant dung, I had my eyes glued to the cell display screen to report knowledge repeatedly and for a second forgot I used to be in a forest. Walking alongside the transect line I all of a sudden encountered a herd of elephants passing by way of 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 author. He has labored on the ecology of wolves in Rajasthan and was part of the analysis crew of the “All India Tiger Monitoring” venture 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 on the Wildlife Institute of India.

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

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