Hi everyone, it’s our pleasure to be joining the Rainmatter collaborative here on the Grove. Following is a short write up about A Rocha India & the work that we do.

A Rocha India was established in November 2003 as a registered public charity. It is a part of an international network of conservation groups that carry out research & conservation projects to combat the global biodiversity loss and climate change crisis. You can go here to know more about some of our work & programs. A Rocha India has very strong roots in the Bannerghatta – Hosur Landscape (BHL), as we have been working here for over two decades. During this period, we have established important alliances with the local communities through our work and as being part of the community we work for. This unique position helps us work dynamically for the cause of conservation, as we view, understand and resolve issues through the lens of relationships. The interactions that local communities have with their land and wildlife; and the connections that we have built with the landscape and its people.
Our mission is to strengthen management systems to secure biodiversity, and local community needs through integrated approaches involving committed and passionate influencers. Our vision is to build resilience and tolerance towards wildlife, its habitats and community through human-wildlife conflict resolution, empowering local communities, especially women and children, and capacity building for forest frontline staff, farming communities and vulnerable groups that are usually most affected by human-wildlife conflict. A Rocha India has conducted many outreach programs and campaigns with the aim of creating stewardship for conservation and enhancing livelihoods of communities in the region.

Our founder, the late. Dr. Vijay Anand, a young scholar pursuing his PhD on the ecology of the Kalvarayan hills envisioned A Rocha India with Dr. Simon Stuart, then a trustee of A Rocha international & Chair of the IUCN SSC Red List, in Bangalore in 2003. One of the first studies that was conducted by A Rocha India in Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) was on the ecology of the Asian elephant and its interactions with farming communities, which morphed into the Asian Elephant Conservation Program (AECP). The AECP is now the longest spanning study of the species in the Bannerghatta – Hosur Landscape and a flagship project for A Rocha India. The Bannerghatta region was one of the least documented regions of the Eastern ghats when we arrived here. But over the past 20 years A Rocha India has had the opportunity to contribute to the knowledge of the Bannerghatta Landscape, now expanding its operations to Hosur in Tamil Nadu. We are proud to have contributed to the science & conservation of the region over the years.
Apart from the research; A Rocha India is heavily invested in community work. Some of our initiatives include digital literacy for rural India, medical support for park-edge villages during the pandemic, livelihood augmentation initiatives for farming communities, implementing sustainable farming practices in the forest-farm interface.

The Rainmatter collaboration is helping us systematically address some of the issues of the BHL. We are primarily working in 4 zones that are critical to the conservation of this landscape:

  1. Forest: Working within forested areas, we are aiming to restore wildlife corridors, tackle illegal wildlife trade, eradicate invasive alien species and conduct methodical wildlife monitoring for the synthesis of important ecological data.
  2. Buffer: a series of projects including human-elephant conflict (HEC) mitigation interventions like early warning systems for alerting on elephant movement, forest fire mitigation, aiding the ETF (Elephant Task Force) with a primary response team for crop raiding instances in villages. This also includes habitat restoration work like grassroots afforestation and improving ground water.
  3. Croplands: An important aspect of the crop lands work will be helping local farmers move away from traditional farming methods to more sustainable & organic methods. This zone also includes mitigation interventions for anti-crop depredation like canine conservation squads for the ETF and ways to help fast-track ex-gratia disbursement.
  4. Urban: this last zone includes awareness and education work with a specific focus on environmental education. We also plan on working to uplift rural welfare infrastructure around protected areas, addressing hygiene needs and civic development in select villages.
    The purview of this latest undertaking was envisioned by the A Rocha team in 2021 under the guidance of our National Director Mr. Avinash Krishnan (Scientist and member of IUCN Asian elephant SSC group), who has worked in the landscape for 17 years. We are hopeful that this effort will bring about positive impact for conservation, building capacity in the people and protecting wildlife of the region to face the climate crisis in the coming few years.