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

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What do you do if you happen to’re a scientist finishing up fieldwork in forests, removed from routes you could find on Google Maps? On a quiet and chilly night contained in the Core zone of Corbett Nationwide Park, our automobile jerking alongside some unfamiliar path, I used to be nervous and tense when our driver stated, “Sir ji! lagta hai galat rasta pakad liya humne..!” He stated he thought we have been on the improper 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 all the 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 eventually attain the specified location. I took off the digicam lure and climbed again into the automobile. Going by means of the pictures, I couldn’t resolve what introduced extra reduction and happiness to me at that second, the superbly captured pictures of tigers within the digicam, or the Locus Map in my telephone nonetheless broad open on my display.

As researchers we generally use this app for marking necessary places like that of digicam lure deployments, animal den websites, a river supply, or in additional basic, a specific distant village web site. I got here throughout this app two years again whereas engaged on the ecology of Indian Gray Wolf as a Undertaking Affiliate 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 similar time. A fellow researcher, a subject biologist working within the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve got here to my rescue,

The interface of Locus Map
Picture Credit score: Screenshots by Prashant Mahajan

Suno, tum Locus Map obtain karo. Ye baaki jhanjhat mein mat pado.” (Simply obtain Locus Map). “It makes use of a telephone’s GPS to detect one’s present location. It has an unlimited repository of maps from all around the world, and the most effective factor about it, it really works even with out an Web connection. You put in it, and see for your self,” he stated.

Inside no time I used to be nicely versed with the applying. I imported my grid file to the app, and there they have been, all 48 grids seen on the similar time, simply as I had needed. Though 48 grids collectively now appeared straightforward, strolling by means of every of them to gather knowledge on wolf’s direct and oblique indicators, whereas additionally recording the whole walked monitor, marking the necessary places on the way in which appeared a frightening process 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 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 info 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 could be fairly difficult and I’ve typically had issue remembering the route taken after a number of kilometres of strolling. In occasions like these, applied sciences like GPS, Locus Map and many others. present the much-needed help, though typical handheld GPS navigation gadgets aren’t a lot user-friendly and don’t present complete maps in contrast to the latter which does it enabling one to ‘know’ the upcoming terrain, how the route seems like, its size, elevation profile and many others. Now and again, I click on footage utilizing it and geotag them simply for future reference.

prashant locus tusker elephant

A male tusker at Corbett Nationwide Park
Picture Credit score: 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 considered one of my mates. The user-friendliness of the app has made it a favorite together with her. For somebody who’s unhealthy at remembering instructions, somewhat data of life-saving applied sciences like these has carried out her no hurt. 

A life with out expertise within the current world would maybe be unimaginable. However to let it take management over our lives may not be the wisest possibility, particularly throughout forest explorations. As soon as throughout knowledge assortment on elephant dung, I had my eyes glued to the cell display to document knowledge constantly and for a second forgot I used to be in a forest. Strolling alongside the transect line I instantly encountered a herd of elephants passing by means of the transect. Anybody who has skilled a herd of thumping beasts chasing them in an unknown forest would not thoughts throwing their telephone to avoid wasting their life!


Prashant Mahajan holds a Grasp’s diploma in Wildlife Sciences from Aligarh Muslim College, in addition to being a graduate in Zoology from the Delhi College, and a author. He has labored on the ecology of wolves in Rajasthan and was part of the analysis group of the “All India Tiger Monitoring” mission with Wildlife Institute of India. At the moment he’s a Undertaking 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 College of Delhi. At the moment working as a Junior Analysis Fellow on the Wildlife Institute of India.

This sequence is an initiative by the Nature Conservation Basis, underneath their programme Nature Communication to encourage nature content material in all Indian languages. Should you’re occupied with writing on nature and birds, please replenish this way.


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