Community-based monitoring and Conservation of Pelochelys cantorii in India (Cantor's giant softshell turtle)
Pelochelys cantorii, commonly known as Cantor’s Giant softshell turtle, is highly threatened due to many anthropogenic activities like poaching and habitat destruction and is on the risk of extinction. Long overlooked by researchers, this species largely remains a mystery to the scientific community. In 2019, a study-focussed project on the species resulted in confirming the presence of a breeding population of the species, and conservation efforts were initiated in Northern Kerala. However, there is no available information on the species population, and this hinders any conservation strategies nationally as well as globally.
This project will be important to assess the population size through mark-recapture study, for undertaking focussed action to conserve this unique species. A study led by the Ayushi Jain recently resulted in discovering first-ever active nests of the species in the country. Therefore, initiating a community-based nest protection program in collaboration with Forest Departments and other stakeholders is important to take necessary actions to ensure the survival of this species. The project will use the recipient’s previous findings regarding the species’ critical habitat areas, nesting ecology and threats to initiate a locally led conservation action plan by involving community members, local NGO and nature enthusiasts, and training them for long-term monitoring of the species.
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This flagship grant will primarily reach out to mid to large sized field work oriented organisations to create a two-way partnership for our common cause of conservation. This grant is directed towards the running costs of on-ground projects. The grant should enable the creation of a sustainable and replicable conservation model to address some of the key conservation issues in India.
This first of its kind initiative aims to secure and regenerate the overlooked and unaddressed habitats of the country that are in urgent need of conservation attention. These lesser-known habitats are home to an array of biodiversity, and serve as important connections between key wildlife landscapes and as havens for dispersal populations from the "celebrity" parks. Through the lesser-known habitats grant, we hope to secure and bring into the limelight these vital habitats.
In recent years, a great deal of attention has been given to the "glamour" species of the country such as tigers, leopards, elephants and rhinos. Unfortunately, several of our equally endangered species have not received the same level of conservation support. This unique grant aims to support conservationists working to secure a future for our lesser-known endangered species.
Across the country there are grassroots conservationists working dedicatedly, with little to no support, to protect our biodiversity. The work they do in their individual capacity has a huge positive impact on conservation in the country. This grant aims to recognize these conservation heroes and provide them a platform to expand their activities and garner further support for their work.
Successfully submitted applications and projects will be screened for eligibility, relevance of answers and authenticity of information. A team of experts, including sector specialists and external auditors, evaluate successful entries on the following parameters:
• Applicant Profile: Based on past performance and credentials, capacity to deliver, financial management, program management and other such criteria.
• Project Profile: Based on statement of need, clarity of objectives, measurability of impact, innovation, strategy and approaches, replicability, stakeholder participation, scalability and sustainability.
At the end of the First Level Screening and Shortlisting round 24 applications, 6 in each category, will move forward for Field Level Verification.
The Habitats Trust team will visit the proposed project locations to verify if details provided by the applicant are true to fact. Along with a Sub-Jury, The Habitats Trust team will shortlist twelve proposals, three in each category, move to the Jury Round. The work of all the applicants shortlisted for the Jury round will be published in The Habitats Trust Grants compendium, as a tribute to their efforts and achievements. Disseminated widely by HCL, this provides national and international visibility to the applicants.
The twelve shortlisted applicants, three in each category, will be invited to present their proposed projects in person to our Jury of eminent conservationists at the Jury Round. Recipients of The Habitats Trust Grants will be announced at a Felicitation Event the next day.