How it started
Charotar Crocodile Count, born in 2013 is an annual event, designed to bring together a diverse set of participants from different niche of life to come to Charotar Region of Gujarat, be part of the mugger crocodile counting exercise and understand the importance of muggers and wetland in the present-day conservation scenario. This voluntary based initiative while helping us to gain a better understanding of crocodile’s status and distribution across the Charotar region, also provides the participants an opportunity to meet people who live alongside crocodiles. This program is first of its kind in Gujarat and has generated a very useful population data over the years (2013-2019), which is being used by wildlife managers, researchers and conservations organisations alike. After six years of successfully running the program in Charotar Region, Gujarat, Charotar Crocodile Count 2020, will mark the seventh iteration of this program. VNC, co-hosted by CHARUSAT University and Naja India, have return with a new focus on providing innovative, relevant training to individuals in order to strengthen the next generation of conservation leadership.
The Citizen Science Approach
VNC used an approach called “Citizen Science” to conduct crocodile count. Citizen Science is an exciting, multifaceted way to bring people from all walks of life together for research and conservation. It is where the public contributes time to assist scientists in their research. In other words, citizens become “Citizentists” (citizen+scientists). Citizentists are a kind of large research team, gathering data on a scale that would be hard to achieve otherwise. For crocodile counts, a team of 5-8 volunteers, depending on the size of the water body to be surveyed, is allocated to various villages. All volunteers count the crocodiles in their assigned places on the same day and between the same time-period.
Why Charotar Crocodile Count?
This program primarily aims to build awareness on the importance of conserving the crocodile and their wetland habitats in Charotar region, Central Gujarat also inculcating a holistic understanding of the human-crocodile relations amongst the participants, who can then become the ambassador of crocodile conservation in their respective regions.
- The count provides an ideal opportunity to understand the significance of biodiversity and how villagers harmoniously coexist with the muggers.
- Participants learn the methods of estimating crocodile population, habitat analysis and assessing the human-crocodile relationships.
- It also helps participants understand the intimate relationship which the local community shares with the ecosystem and understand the pivotal role of muggers in managing the ecosystem, by functioning as keystone species.
All relevant information about the population of muggers observed during the count will be shared with concerned authorities for the conservation management purposes.