In India the Environmental focus is not upon deforestation but upon the education of communities and youth in reducing the human impact upon habitats to preserve the natural biodiversity.

Under the wildlife protection act 1972 the Indian government created 97 National Parks to safeguard the habitats of endangered species such as elephants, tigers and other mammals and protected flora. The government also established 15 Biosphere Reserves in India, which protect larger areas of natural habitat, and often including one or more National Parks, Elephant or Tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries, along buffer zones that grant protection not only to the flora and fauna of the protected region, but also to the human communities who inhabit these regions, and their ways of life.

Raleigh India works in close partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) forestry service and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to focus upon habitat conservation measures in identified at risk areas of the Nilgiri Biosphere reserve. The projects we undertake are designed to reduce human-wildlife conflict. This concentrates on measures to reduce the interaction between wild animals and people and the resultant negative impact on people or their resources, or wild animals or their habitat. Projects we focus on include natural resource management of fire wood and water, the maintenance of elephant migratory corridors, protection of community agricultural crops from trampling by elephants and the improvement of infrastructure in the forest for anti-poaching patrols.

Here are some examples of volunteer projects you may be working on. Please be aware that these may change and are just a guide to the types of environmental projects we work on during a Raleigh expedition.

Sustainable alternative energy bio-gas projects
New in 2010, Raleigh India are embarking upon a programme of natural resource management in a series of villages and communities in close proximity to wildlife sanctuaries within the of the Nilgiri Biosphere reserve. Typically tribal villagers living within or nearby the forest illegally use wood from the forest to cook and purify water. Traditionally women cook inside on small open fires which not only damages forest resources but the health of the family who inhale the smoke. The programme plans to install family bio-gas units that harness the methane emissions from processed cow dung to fill an individual family gas tank supply used for cooking and in lighting the home. By providing each family in the village with a pair of cows, a cow shed, and a cow dung processing and gas storage tank, the entire community can support a model sustainable alternative energy plant to reduce their impact on the forest and even their carbon emissions. A truly elegant spin-off is the ability of the village to then establish a milk co-operative from the dairy cows they employ to produce the gas. This also provides them with a sustainable economic livelihood.

Raleigh volunteers typically sleep in the forest or close to the community in jungle bashas. They are located in remote parts of the forest and are entirely self sufficient in providing their own food and sourcing drinking water during the project duration.

Elephant-proof trenching and solar fencing
Working in partnership with the WWF, Raleigh India works within wildlife sanctuaries home to indigenous communities to help construct solar powered electric fences and dig elephant-proof trenches around the villages and cultivated lands to prevent elephants and humans clashing in an attempt to prevent loss of life on both sides.

These communities are dependent on collection of non timber forest products and agriculture for their livelihoods. But there is significant pressure on the forests and elephants and wild boar are frequently leaving the forest to forage for cultivated crops, which represent easier pickings than increasingly scarce food sources in the forest. This creates conflict between man and wildlife, and in particular elephants. Both elephants and people are killed or seriously injured regularly in violent encounters and the problem is very serious.

Raleigh volunteers typically sleep in the forest or close to the community in jungle bashas. They are located in remote parts of the forest and are entirely self sufficient in providing their own food and sourcing drinking water during the project duration.

Anti-poaching camp repair and construction
Raleigh India, in partnership with Karnataka Forest Department, provide infrastructure improvements to anti-poaching camps deep inside the National Park. The camps were often constructed in at the turn of the century and have lain empty, falling into disrepair. Volunteers completely renovate or reconstruct camps adding sanitation and water services in order for it to be utilised by the Forestry Department as a permanently manned ranger station serving the wildlife sanctuary - an important habitat for tigers, elephant and many other key species.

Raleigh volunteers typically camp in or near to the national park in jungle bashas and work together on this environmental project to provide sustainable hides for Park rangers and environmental scientists to monitor natural habitat and wildlife. By volunteering on this project, they will be helping to prevent, and catch illegal poachers who poach both wildlife and wood.

All of our volunteer projects are sustainable and genuinely needed by the communities we work in. Find out more about how we plan our projects and our project partners in India