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Rapid Action Project

With a country of over a billion people living in an area of 3287263 sq km, challenges and threats to wildlife and environment are common in India. Be it human-induced or natural, these threats if not addressed in time can have disastrous effects on the country’s natural heritage.   

Among other reasons, the response to these situations is often slowed down by bureaucratic processes that block swift and decisive action on the ground. As a result many of these issues go unheeded, worsening the problem, eventually necessitating greater investments in terms of logistics and funds to correct the situation. Even if there are interested individuals or committed grassroots agencies that can locally alleviate the problem, they are usually unable to respond due to lack of funds, expertise, and support.

What is a RAP?
One of Wildlife Trust of India’s oldest initiatives, Rapid Action Projects (RAP) were activated to enable quick response to wildlife emergencies across the country. Through the RAPs, WTI extends support to individuals or grassroots organisations with proven credibility, and works closely with the government to implement short and medium-term interventions to address urgent or critical conservation needs across the country.

Rehabilitation of open-bill stork chicks in Chakrasila Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam  
Rehabilitation of openbill stork chicks displaced from their nests in Chakrasila Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam. The RAP was implemented by the Forest Department.

This division addresses a wide range of conservation issues and facilitates the implementation of innovative projects including species and habitat protection, conflict mitigation and management, wildlife rehabilitation, poaching, trade control, awareness, among others. Working through collaborations, this division helps overcome the spatial and temporal limitations to reach help where and when it is needed the most. Support is provided in the form of funds, expertise, equipment, etc, as required by the implementing agencies or individuals. Through these conservation-oriented collaborations, it also attempts to set up a country-wide network of reliable individuals and agencies involved in wildlife conservation for mobilisation during emergencies.

It is non-bureaucratic, rapid in implementation, and can react to requests, if required, within 24 hours.

Over the past 14 years, this division has sanctioned and conducted around 290 diverse kinds of species-specific or general projects across 26 states and two Union territories in India. These include surveys, habitat protection and management measures, human-animal conflict mitigation, training and equipping frontline forest staff and local communities involved in wildlife protection, litigation, disaster impact assessment, displaced wildlife rehabilitation, disease investigation, cattle vaccination near protected areas, provision of alternatives to wildlife products, awareness generation.
A panel of expert advisors including scientists, conservationists, veterinarians, field biologists, lawyers, and communication specialists from within WTI as well as external institutions like the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), have approved and facilitated the effective implementation of these projects.

RAP proponents are required to submit a proposal in the format available on the WTI website (download form). Once this proposal reaches WTI, it is verified and evaluated for urgency, and then approved if the particulars are satisfactory. However, procedural exceptions are permitted in extremely urgent cases.

RAP proposals are evaluated based on the following elements:

--Rapid implementation: The project must be carried out with the speed as required to thwart the conservation threat timely and effectively.
--Conservation worth: The project must be of significance to conservation.
--Duration: The project must be short or medium-term not exceeding a year.
--Cost: Budgets should be flexible and should not include a huge financial outlay. Generally, RAPs do not exceed Rs 1,00,000.

Success stories

Snake rescue team set up in Raipur, Chhatisgarh:
Raipur, in Chhattisgarh, like several other cities in India experiences a high incidence of human-snake conflict. To address the issue through RAP, with the help of Nova Nature Club, a team of snake rescuers were provided with customised snake rescue equipment and anti-venom to perform their rescue operations in the area. This was done with the help on an individual donor, Priyamvada Balaji.
So far, the team has attended to over 100 rescue calls in and around Raipur and has successfully rescued and released snakes including cobras, banded kraits and Indian rock pythons.

Nets placed below trees to save Greater Adjutant Stork fledglings in Dadara, Assam:
Dozens of Greater Adjutant Stork fledglings were dying each year due to nest falls in one of Assam’s largest nesting sites of these endangered birds. Through a RAP, with a school teacher in the area, Paresh Das, local communities were made aware of the issue and involved in the conservation of the storks. Assisted by Charities Aid Foundation nets were placed below nesting trees from September to cushion the fall which helped rescue and rehabilitate displaced and injured stork chicks in Dadara, Assam.
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