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

What do you do when you’re a scientist finishing up fieldwork in forests, removed from routes you’ll 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 correct monitor, I attempted piecing collectively each element I might collect, hoping to seek out the way in which. After shut to twenty 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 preferred GPS-based mapping app that many researchers use for conditions like this one. It took us one other quarter-hour to take a detour and at last attain the specified location. I took off the digicam lure and climbed again into the automobile. Going by the images, I couldn’t resolve what introduced extra reduction and happiness to me at that second, the superbly captured photographs of tigers within the digicam, or the Locus Map in my telephone nonetheless extensive open on my display screen.

As researchers we generally use this app for marking necessary areas 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 Gray Wolf as a Challenge 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 enable 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,

locus interface locus map

The interface of Locus Map
Photograph 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 enormous 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 properly versed with the appliance. 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 every of them to gather knowledge on wolf’s direct and oblique indicators, whereas additionally recording the overall walked monitor, marking the necessary areas on the way in which 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 educated 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 of the grids within the subsequent ten days. The information 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 areas may be fairly difficult and I’ve typically had problem remembering the route taken after a number of kilometres of strolling. In occasions like these, applied sciences like GPS, Locus Map and so forth. present the much-needed assist, though typical 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 appears like, its size, elevation profile and so forth. Once in a while, I click on photos utilizing it and geotag them simply for future reference.

prashant locus tusker elephant

A male tusker at Corbett Nationwide Park
Photograph 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 mountain climbing and trekking journeys too. On one such event, I advisable it to one in all my buddies. The user-friendliness of the app has made it a favorite together with her. For somebody who’s dangerous at remembering instructions, just a little data of life-saving applied sciences like these has achieved her no hurt. 

A life with out know-how within the current world would maybe be unimaginable. However to let it take management over our lives won’t be the wisest choice, particularly throughout forest explorations. As soon as throughout knowledge assortment on elephant dung, I had my eyes glued to the cellular display screen to report knowledge constantly and for a second forgot I used to be in a forest. Strolling alongside the transect line I abruptly encountered a herd of elephants passing by the transect. Anybody who has skilled a herd of thumping beasts chasing them in an unknown forest would not thoughts throwing their telephone to save lots of their life!


Prashant Mahajan holds a Grasp’s diploma in Wildlife Sciences from Aligarh Muslim College, apart from being a graduate in Zoology from the Delhi College, and a writer. He has labored on the ecology of wolves in Rajasthan and was part of the analysis workforce of the “All India Tiger Monitoring” challenge with Wildlife Institute of India. At the moment he’s a Challenge 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 collection is an initiative by the Nature Conservation Basis, underneath their programme Nature Communication to encourage nature content material in all Indian languages. In case you’re fascinated about writing on nature and birds, please replenish this form.


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