Coming from a diamond merchant family, Ashok Bhansali, Founder Trustee, Bhansali Trust has the first-hand experience in philanthropy. His...
Investment opportunity #1: Building capacities at a systems scale
Case study: Wildlife Conservation Trust supported by Hemendra Kothari
About the model: Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) works in the space of environment conservation with a focus on strengthening sustainable ecosystems that will continue to serve wildlife and communities in the long-term. The organisation works closely with government bodies and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), providing funding, technical support and consultancy. What makes this a noteworthy systems solution—in addition to being collaborative and deeply rooted within the communities in which it works—is the strong emphasis on building capacity of government actors such as forest department officials and local law enforcement agencies. WCT provides end-to-end capacity building support to forest department officials in tiger reserves, national parks and sanctuaries within the Central Indian Landscape. WCT organises intensive and regular training programmes for, and provides consultancy and assistance to, the forest staff on a range of disciplines including crime prevention, wildlife crime investigation, law enforcement and forensics, forest patrolling, wildlife population estimation, and trauma management. WCT also functions as a think tank, regularly assisting the states in creating a policy framework for protecting wildlife corridors (forests outside national parks and sanctuaries); helping mitigate human-wildlife conflict and providing win-win solutions for both development and conservation by suggesting well- researched mitigation measures along linear infrastructure (roads, railways and canals) that cuts through existing wildlife corridors. Its work with the government is exemplary of non-profits filling a void by building capacities for government actors, especially so in critical yet less explored areas such as Wildlife Protection, which are subsets of larger, globally prioritised sectors like Climate Action.
Impact and scaling potential: WCT works in 160 national parks and sanctuaries across 23 states.
It has conducted 190 patrolling, law-enforcement and related training programmes for 12,000 frontline forest officials and law enforcement agencies so far. A total of 2,500 anti-poaching camps have been provided with essential equipment to conduct patrolling and combat poaching. WCT’s Law Enforcement Monitoring division, which trains the forest staff in tiger reserves, is proficient in conducting site security training. Recognising the importance of a motivated forest staff for effective protection of India’s forests, WCT also embarked on work level motivation assessment studies of the field staff in tiger reserves. Based on the findings, policy suggestions and recommendations for better work and living conditions of forest guards were submitted to the forest department. To this end, WCT has also started to organise Human Resources Management training for senior officials.
Philanthropic spotlight: Hemendra Kothari supports the Wildlife Conservation Trust that works towards uplifting underprivileged communities in over 160 national parks and sanctuaries across the country. Mr. Kothari provides assistance for protection of vulnerable forest tracts, in collaboration with forest departments. The recognition of capacity building as a catalytic area of action is still emerging in the Indian development sector, and the sector needs more philanthropists supporting this area of intervention at a systems level.