Ecotourism in Bhitarkanika : Basic Eco-Guide Training for Boat Crew and Other Tourism Enablers of the Mangroves

10 Aug, 2022

Bhitarkanika, a Ramsar wetland located in Odisha, receives an influx of tourists post-monsoon, with an annual footfall of around 50,000 people. In line with recommendations of Government of India, ecotourism is being promoted in the region as an alternate livelihood option while ensuring maintenance of ecological integrity of the site. Boat crew are the major enablers of tourism in Bhitarkanika, and thus, suspension of boating activities during the pandemic impacted the tourism at large.

As the boating operations resume and the site also re-opens for visitors, a basic eco-guide training was conducted for the boat crew and tourism-associated staff from 25th to 29th July 2022, under the Wetlands Management for Biodiversity and Climate Protection project. The training, conducted along with Mangrove Forest (Wildlife) Division, The Naturalist School and APOWA, was an experiential, hands-on learning experience designed to provide hands-on training, practical information on the ecological and geographical significance of the Bhitarkanika landscape and wildlife, along with tourist facilitation skills. The trainees included boatpersons ferrying the tourists and other staff associated with tourism in Bhitarkanika, all from the villages surrounding the area, including a few Forest Department staff.

Learning through visual aids © GIZ

The five-day training was conducted as a series of interactive sessions, with Days 1 and 2 focused on expectation sharing, motivation building, sensory skill building, communication and eco-tourism. Days 3 and 4 focused on field sessions on boats and on foot, biodiversity sessions (mangroves, kingfishers and more), nature journaling, roles and responsibilities of eco-guides, storytelling and guest facilitation. Day 5 was focused on first aid, use of technology in citizen science and closure circles and feedbacks. Certificate Distribution by the DFO and one-on-one feedback by the trainees to training team as well as Forest Dept also took place.

Session in progress in Bhitarkanika environs © GIZ/Shambhavi

Nature journaling by the trainees© GIZ

Session on the diversity of mangroves in Bhitarkanika conducted at the mangrove nursery ©GIZ

Feedback session with the DFO © GIZ/Sachin Kumar Singh

Building stories through body language and teamwork © GIZ


About the project

The Wetlands Management for Biodiversity and Climate Protection project aims to strengthen the institutional framework and capacities for an ecosystem-based integrated management of wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites) in India. Four Ramsar sites have been selected as pilot sites under the project: Pong Dam and Renuka Lake in Himachal Pradesh, Bhitarkanika Mangroves in Odisha, and the Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. The project is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in close cooperation with the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA). This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag. Read More

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