Locus in Focus: One Scientist’s Story About Navigating in the Wild


What do you do in case you’re a scientist finishing up fieldwork in forests, removed from routes you could find on Google Maps? On a quiet and chilly night inside the Core zone of Corbett National Park, our car jerking alongside some unfamiliar path, I used to be nervous and tense when our driver stated, “Sir ji! lagta hai galat rasta pakad liya humne..!” He stated he thought we have been on the mistaken route, and I had a digicam entice to retrieve, so these phrases from my driver have been the very last thing I hoped to listen to.

As Sonu struggled to hit the proper monitor, I attempted piecing collectively each element I may collect, hoping to seek out the approach. After near 20 minutes of futile driving and mind racking, I remembered that I had mapped the whole route resulting in the deployed digicam traps in Locus Map, a well-liked GPS-based mapping app that many researchers use for conditions like this one. It took us one other 15 minutes to take a detour and at last attain the desired location. I took off the digicam entice and climbed again into the car. Going by the images, I couldn’t resolve what introduced extra reduction and happiness to me at that second, the fantastically captured photos of tigers in the digicam, or the Locus Map in my telephone nonetheless extensive open on my display screen.

As researchers we generally use this app for marking vital areas like that of digicam entice deployments, animal den websites, a river supply, or in extra basic, a specific distant village web site. I got here throughout this app two years again whereas engaged on the ecology of Indian Grey Wolf as a Project Associate with Tiger Watch. My goal was to evaluate the habitat use of Indian-grey wolf inside the Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS). I used a software program known as ArcGIS to put grids of 4×4 sq. km every on the complete examine space spanning 684 sq. km, however the handheld GPS didn’t enable all the grids to be seen at the identical time. A fellow researcher, a subject biologist working in the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve got here to my rescue,

The interface of Locus Map
Photo Credit: Screenshots by Prashant Mahajan

Suno, tum Locus Map obtain karo. Ye baaki jhanjhat mein mat pado.” (Just obtain Locus Map). “It uses a phone’s GPS to detect one’s current location. It has a vast repository of maps from all over the world, and the best thing about it, it works even without an Internet connection. You install it, and see for yourself,” he stated.

Within no time I used to be properly versed with the utility. I imported my grid file to the app, and there they have been, all 48 grids seen at the identical time, simply as I had wished. Although taking a look at 48 grids collectively now appeared straightforward, strolling by every of them to gather knowledge on wolf’s direct and oblique indicators, whereas additionally recording the whole walked monitor, marking the vital areas on the approach appeared a frightening activity to me. So, I approached some wildlife volunteers from the KWS villages working with Tiger Watch. I handed on my new discovered information of Locus Map to the volunteers and educated them on its correct use with out making it complicated for them. I marked some areas as landmarks to make it simpler for them to find the start line of the grid.

At 5 grids per day, traversing 10-12 kms in every grid, we have been in a position to cowl all the grids in the subsequent ten days. The knowledge was safely saved in the app and yielded some wonderful outcomes. We have been in a position to doc and mark indicators of wolves, hyenas, foxes, chinkara, nilgai, golden jackals, hares, bears, leopards and even few indicators of tiger.

Trekking in distant forests for knowledge assortment on animal areas might be fairly difficult and I’ve typically had issue remembering the route taken after a number of kilometres of strolling. In instances like these, applied sciences like GPS, Locus Map and so on. present the much-needed assist, though standard handheld GPS navigation units usually are not a lot user-friendly and don’t present complete maps not like the latter which does it enabling one to ‘know’ the upcoming terrain, how the route appears to be like like, its size, elevation profile and so on. Every at times, I click on footage utilizing it and geotag them simply for future reference.

prashant locus tusker elephant

A male tusker at Corbett National Park
Photo Credit: Prashant Mahajan

To restrict the relevance of Locus Map to the world of wildlife analysis could be a felony on my half, as I’ve actively used it on leisure mountain climbing and trekking journeys too. On one such event, I really useful it to one in all my mates. The user-friendliness of the app has made it a favorite along with her. For somebody who’s unhealthy at remembering instructions, a bit of information of life-saving applied sciences like these has achieved her no hurt. 

A life with out know-how in the current world would maybe be unimaginable. But to let it take management over our lives won’t be the wisest possibility, particularly throughout forest explorations. Once throughout knowledge assortment on elephant dung, I had my eyes glued to the cell display screen to document knowledge constantly and for a second forgot I used to be in a forest. Walking alongside the transect line I abruptly encountered a herd of elephants passing by the transect. Anyone who has skilled a herd of thumping beasts chasing them in an unknown forest would not thoughts throwing their telephone to save lots of their life!


Prashant Mahajan holds a Master’s diploma in Wildlife Sciences from Aligarh Muslim University, in addition to being a graduate in Zoology from the Delhi University, and a author. He has labored on the ecology of wolves in Rajasthan and was part of the analysis crew of the “All India Tiger Monitoring” challenge with Wildlife Institute of India. Currently he’s a Project Fellow at Wildlife Institute of India.

Juno Negi is a researcher and blogger who accomplished her post-graduation in Anthropology with a bachelor’s diploma in Zoology, from the University of Delhi. Currently working as a Junior Research Fellow at the Wildlife Institute of India.

This sequence is an initiative by the Nature Conservation Foundation, underneath their programme Nature Communication to encourage nature content material in all Indian languages. If you are in writing on nature and birds, please replenish this manner.


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