Rural System's

The Satpuda Initiative

Brief India History

The Satpuda Initiative is a special initiative of Rural System, part of its international effort, that seeks to help bring modern sophisticated rural resource management to the lands and waters for the future and the quality of life of the people there. The Initiative is exploratory, trying to find ways to make needed tradeoffs, resolve conflicts, reduce poaching as well as animal damage of all types, stabilize communities, and enhance the life quality of citizens. It seeks to work through the Satpuda Foundation, its staff, and many cooperators, both public and private.

Devoted to the people, waters, and wildlife of central India, the Satpuda Foundation has a gigantic task. Its area is generally that of the Satpura Mountains. Its ecological emphasis is the tiger and the area contains several famous tiger reserves. It is said to the largest contiguous tiger reserve area in the world. There are 13 Protected Areas. The work ahead includes the tiger as well as other endangered species and watershed management for important rivers of India - the Wardha, Tapi, and Purna, Denwa, Tawa, and Narmada upon which millions of Indians depend.

The area is about 10,000 square kilometers.

The tiger reserves are those of Melghat and Pench in Maharashtra and Pench, Bori-Satpura and Kanha (partly) in Madhya Pradesh - 6,500 square kilometers. While tiger-related, the work of the foundation is inclusive. "Your end of the boat is sinking" is humorous but it seems analogous, for we know we cannot solve tiger problems by work with them only.



The Satpuda Foundation was formed

  1. to protect wildlife
  2. to conduct research to support conservation action and
  3. to educate sections of society about the short and longterm benefits of protecting the world's largest tiger habitat.

The Initiative has related but limited objectives of:

The Needs

These objectives were developed from limited experience and reading about the region but abundant experience in regions with similar problems and needs. In one sense, if we can achieve these objectives in the Satpura region (spelling similar to Satpuda) we can show by example a means for solving identical problems almost world wide. The needs of rural people are very similar and these have been listed.

Endangered Species

The tiger space is decreasing and being broken by development projects, logging, poaching, and wildlife trade. There are many known (and probably other) endangered species.

Forest Practices

The forests are virtually unmanaged, poached, and great value foregone because of inadequate harvest schedules, processing, and marketing. There is little understanding that combined practices on the same land can produce far greater profits for the people that simple logging...and also benefit wild fauna.

Herein we use wild fauna to be specific about and not include domestic animals and not include wild plants including shrubs and vines. We address trees separately.

Research and Studies

We are strongly management oriented with clear, well-articulated human objectives. While we need research, we hold strongly to the need for moving into practice the results of past studies. We are both impatient as well as fearful of the speed of species loss and faunal space destruction and believe there are priorities for planned studies flowing into computer databases and models, later for formal scientific research. Funds are very limited as is time for action, and we press for immediate applications. Of course we will be as cooperative as possible with concurrent research workers.

We shall assist in developing surveys and data bases but given the now-evident time constraints, we recommend a computer based, GIS approach to describing every alpha unit of the Satpura range (each 10m x 10m map square). We can bring data now available into that system. By using area-proportional sampling and description near roads, trails, and water-access, and by using current human knowledge, a preliminary faunal species presence map can be made. "Richness" is sometimes called "biodiversity" and is confounded by other expressions of variety and diversity. We can now integrate existing data into an information system that can produce maps that

  1. suggest tourist opportunity zones
  2. improve tree harvest scheduling
  3. indicate areas for planned and prescribed fires
  4. isolate areas for complete protection
  5. mark areas for planned and budgeted restoration and regular treatment
  6. mark areas for expeditions and intensive studies
  7. mark areas for camps and work areas
  8. design efficient roads and trails as needed

Changing Behavior (Education)

Protecting areas has been a wise initial effort, now evident. Now staff and associates of of Rural System operate on the premise that financial incentives are needed for people to manage their resources well. People generally do not know how to do this "well" and the Incentive brings new knowledge and methods. The financial incentive of poaching wildlife, for example, must be replaced with a higher financial incentive ... or risk (readily quantified with money). By working together, team work, with local resources and some from outside, major gains can be made with the knowledge we now have ... and then expand. We live in a new world with computers and satellites. Everything is changing. There are new ways to protect the region, the tiger, and to benefit all of its people... and other parts of India and the world, strongly related.

The New Faunal System Manager

The Green Force, young, trained and dedicated people occupy nodes throughout the region. Armed with distance sampling, time sampling, GPS location equipment, a new flow of information can be gained about the area, its best forest management, and best coordinated land treatment that benefits fauna.

Brilliant youth can be educated into the complex, very difficult world of managing the Satpura range. Some will move on, but a cadre needs to be built, educated from youth and brought to a high level of ecological and environmental understanding, with local respect and influence.
Fauna are a function of the forest

Animals are fairly specific in their relations to the age of a forest or grassland since clear-cutting or an intense fire. While animal populations may rise and fall, boom and bust like a mining community, conservationists cannot tolerate the risk of loss when they are at very low numbers. Neither can they tolerate the side effects of low numbers, both to tourism and to natural regulation of prey. The Green Force needs to monitor community type and age as well as fauna and progressively over time we can describe, model, and estimate all of the outputs of each alpha unit ... from rodents, to tigers, to streamflow, and to groundwater recharge.

Programs and Action Notes

A distance learning resource is being developed for staff of NGOs and others.

We welcome involvement by villagers in areas moved from Protection Areas.

We develop species-specific programs with work with Rural System Groups such as the Owls Group, Bobcat Group, The Fishery, the Coyote (a canid-emphasis Group) and Official Avi.

Based on past experience, we can expedite an automated environmental impact analysis procedure.

We have initiated conversations with Profs. Green and Wagner of the Radford University (Virginia, USA) faculty, experts on rural crime (including wildlife and forest crime, vandalism, etc.) - its analysis, public knowledge of the law, costs, prevention, supression and control, apprehension, punishment and rehabilitation.


We recognize the sandalwood problem and propose to implement, after correspondence, a specialized program with elements of:

  1. Listing the wild faunal associates of sandalwood communities
  2. Publishing the message of how endangered is sandalwood,
  3. developing planned program of applied studies with tax-related funding opportunities
  4. developing public information displays about sandalwood with odors available
  5. clarify relations of the tree to tiger/buffalo/ habitat ecology
  6. debunk claims about its superior powers
  7. develop and market the alternatives to some of them if they seem true (medicinal equivalents, etc.)

Sustained ... or just Sustainable?

The word "sustained" is now frequently used when discussing wildlife areas, resources and development. It is essential that a management program be sustained if the wild fauna and their areas are to be sustained. The generous support of several benefactors has benefitted the Foundation and its effects in the past. Uninterrupted and increasing funds are needed to meet the gigantic needs described for the Satpura region and its wildlife and people. Rural System is seen as one means for cooperative, international work with funding flowing to the region through the Foundation.
Toward sustained profits...

Inter agency Work

In the same way that citizens need incentives to help improve and manage natural resources, so do agencies. While agencies have been very cooperative, some actions in one work against achieving objectives of others (for example, specific harvests may cost more to do than those at random, but if planned harvests (that have small costs) can be shown beneficial to deer, and thus tigers, then the financial gains from modern forestry can be shared and offset or exceed the management cost. The Initiative exists to help people, by means of the wild faunal resource...and that requires sustained funds for sustained management. Stopping funds can be as disruptive in a faunal resource program as destroying a water catchment or a disease wiping out a major food supply.

Maharashtra Notes

A Great Land and a fascinating region of India, Maharashtra is the third largest state and one of the most industrially and commercially developed within India. Its chief city, Mumbai, is the true financial and industrial capital of India.


Climate - extreme variations in temperature with very hot summers and very cold winters and a relative humidity of 60 per cent. There are three major seasons. Monsoon sets in the month of June. It is at its peak in July and August. July end and first two weeks of August is the best time to enjoy rain in Nagpur district.Summer is really hot. Temperature reaches 45 degree Celsius. (Sometimes even higher for a few days. Then air is dry and hot with slight wind moments. This is not a right season to visit Nagpur District.

The best time to enjoy travel in Nagpur district is in the Winter season. The season though starts from October but from November to end of January is the best time. In these days temperature goes below 15 degree Celsius. For only few days it goes even below 12 degree Celsius. Air blow is calm and dry. Light winter clothing is must in these days.

Maximum, minimum and Average Temperatures
The maximum recorded temperature till date was 47.8 degree Celsius on 26th May, 1954.
The minimum recorded temperature of 3.9 degree Celsius was on 7th January, 1937.
The mean annual temperature of the city is maximum 33 degree Celsius and minimum 23 degree Celsius.

Nagpur district receives rainfall from the South-westerly monsoon mainly in the months of June, July, August and September . July and August are the months during which the maximum rainfall as well as maximum continuous rainfall occurs.
Total of Annual Rainfall (in mm) for 26 years(1970 - 1996) 27938.67 (mm) Average Rain fall (mm) 1074.56 (mm) Maximum Rainfall (mm) in a month 559.1(mm)

Climatic notes from

Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .


Rural System
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
September 26, 2005