Supporting Nature Tourism in Bhitarkanika: Eco-Guide Training for Tourism Enablers of the Mangroves

24 Jul, 2023

Building upon the success of the capacity development program initiated in 2022, the Wetlands Management for Biodiversity and Climate Protection project being implemented by GIZ, in collaboration with the Mangrove Forest Division and Naturalist School, organised a comprehensive five-day eco-guide training at Bhitarkanika National Park from July 24th to July 28th, 2023. This initiative is also in line with the Amrit Dharohar initiative of the Wetlands Division, under the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change. The training specifically targeted selected tourism facilitators from the region, including boat owners, forest personnel, boat drivers, and homestay owners primarily from Dangmal, Bankual, Gupti, and Chandbali villages.

Throughout the five-day program, the participants were exposed to a wide range of topics essential to becoming proficient eco-guides. The training curriculum was thoughtfully designed to incorporate a blend of classroom sessions, experiential learning, and field activities. The methods employed during the training encompassed various outdoor and invigorating exercises aimed at fostering teamwork, coordination, and leadership skills. Additionally, the participants were provided with opportunities for nature documentation and informative classroom sessions.

On the first day, Mr. Prasanna Nayak, a resource person of the Mangrove (Forest) Wildlife Division walked the trainees through the basics of mangroves of Bhitarkanika and their significance. The role of mangroves in the light of Odisha’s vulnerability to extreme weather events, which is further intensified due to climate change was also discussed. The next four days of the training were conducted by the Naturalist School trainer Mr. Arjun Manjunath, with the support of Mr. Pushpendra Pardhi. Day 2 and Day 3 focused on Birds and Reptiles of Bhitarkanika, respectively. An extensive field session was also conducted on Day 3 in which the trainees were taken on a tourist group simulation around the tourist boating and walking routes with demonstration of various guiding techniques. Day 4 focused on guiding techniques discussion and practice with afternoon session focused on nature documentation through nature zines, spider diagrams and journalling. The final day focused on incorporating technology in nature guiding through applications and websites like iNaturalsit, Merlin, Xeno-canto, Google Lens and reflecting on the things learned and experienced over the week.

There was also an extensive discussion with the DFO, Mr. Sudarshan Jadhav, on further steps to be taken by all the stakeholders for developing eco-tourism in the area and the need for further capacity development. The training closed with certificate distribution.

Sessions in progress in the Bhitarkanika environs ©GIZ/Shivani Goyal

Participants with their DIY Nature Zines ©GIZ/Suddhabrata Chakraborty

Eco-Guide Training –Trainees and Trainers ©GIZ/Shambhavi Krishna

Some of the trainees and trainers during the field visit to the nature trail ©GIZ/ Suddhabrata Chakraborty


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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