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

Locus in Focus: One Scientist


What do you do should you’re a scientist finishing up fieldwork in forests, removed from routes yow will discover on Google Maps? On a quiet and chilly night contained in 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 improper route, and I had a digital camera 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 appropriate monitor, I attempted piecing collectively each element I may collect, hoping to search out the way in which. After shut to twenty minutes of futile driving and mind racking, I remembered that I had mapped your complete route resulting in the deployed digital camera traps in Locus Map, a preferred GPS-based mapping app that many researchers use for conditions like this one. It took us one other quarter-hour to take a detour and at last attain the specified location. I took off the digital camera entice and climbed again into the car. Going by means of the images, I couldn’t determine what introduced extra aid and happiness to me at that second, the fantastically captured photographs of tigers within the digital camera, or the Locus Map in my cellphone nonetheless broad open on my display screen.

As researchers we generally use this app for marking vital places like that of digital camera entice deployments, animal den websites, a river supply, or in additional basic, a selected distant village website. 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 contained in the Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS). I used a software program known as ArcGIS to put grids of 4×4 sq. km every on the entire research space spanning 684 sq. km, however the handheld GPS didn’t enable all of the grids to be seen on the identical time. A fellow researcher, a area biologist working within the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve got here to my rescue,

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

Suno, tum Locus Map download 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 applying. I imported my grid file to the app, and there they have been, all 48 grids seen on the identical time, simply as I had wished. Although taking a look at 48 grids collectively now appeared simple, strolling by means of every of them to gather information on wolf’s direct and oblique indicators, whereas additionally recording the whole walked monitor, marking the vital places on the way in which appeared a frightening process to me. So, I approached some wildlife volunteers from the KWS villages working with Tiger Watch. I handed on my new discovered data of Locus Map to the volunteers and skilled them on its correct use with out making it complicated for them. I marked some places as landmarks to make it simpler for them to find the place to begin of the grid.

At 5 grids per day, traversing 10-12 kms in every grid, we have been in a position to cowl all of the grids within the subsequent ten days. The information was safely saved within 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 information assortment on animal places may be fairly difficult and I’ve typically had problem remembering the route taken after a number of kilometres of strolling. In instances like these, applied sciences like GPS, Locus Map and so forth. present the much-needed support, though typical handheld GPS navigation units should not a lot user-friendly and don’t present complete maps in contrast to the latter which does it enabling one to ‘know’ the upcoming terrain, how the route seems like, its size, elevation profile and so forth. Every every now and then, I click on photos 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 beneficial it to considered one of my mates. The user-friendliness of the app has made it a favorite together with her. For somebody who’s dangerous at remembering instructions, just a little data of life-saving applied sciences like these has completed her no hurt. 

A life with out expertise within the current world would maybe be unimaginable. But to let it take management over our lives may not be the wisest possibility, particularly throughout forest explorations. Once throughout information assortment on elephant dung, I had my eyes glued to the cell display screen to report information repeatedly and for a second forgot I used to be in a forest. Walking alongside the transect line I immediately encountered a herd of elephants passing by means of the transect. Anyone who has skilled a herd of thumping beasts chasing them in an unknown forest would not thoughts throwing their cellphone to avoid wasting their life!


Prashant Mahajan holds a Master’s diploma in Wildlife Sciences from Aligarh Muslim University, moreover 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 staff 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 on 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 excited about writing on nature and birds, please refill this type.


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