From Primates to Predators: The Conservation of India’s Iconic Mammals | Field Projects International
 

From Primates to Predators: The Conservation of India’s Iconic Mammals

Course Description

India has gained a reputation for hosting one of the most burgeoning human populations on the planet. Within it, however, live an incredible range of organisms, from endangered lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus) to Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris). Interactions between humans and wildlife in India are emblematic of human-wildlife conflicts that are on the rise the world over. How does India balance the conservation of wildlife with the happiness and safety of its people?

This course begins by exploring the ecological interdependencies of wildlife within the rich ecosystems of the Western Ghats. We will learn to observe and track these animals in the wild, mastering biodiversity monitoring techniques, while exploring the demands each mammal makes on their environment. We will discuss the community food web, the role each iconic taxon plays within the web, and the disturbances and threats faced by this ecosystem. Then, we will utilise primates as a classic example of animals that have mastered the ability to live among human populations, while contrasting them to other iconic large mammals who face distinctive difficulties in doing the same. Finally, we will examine the unique challenge India faces in accommodating its people and wildlife in this small and yet incredibly fertile subcontinent. 

Throughout, the field course will provide hands-on training in methods that are broadly applicable to mammalian field research, including but not limited to, forest navigation, biodiversity monitoring, radio telemetry, plant identification, tree-climbing and camera-trapping. At each stage of the course, instructors will stress the impacts that humans can have on this habitat, highlight current human-wildlife conflicts in the area, and discuss a range of solutions proposed to mitigate these conflicts.

The course takes place at Fringe Ford, a privately protected valley of natural forest tucked away in one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, the Western Ghats.

Course Details

  • Highlights
  • Topics
  • Faculty
  • Eligibility
  • Documents
  • Food & Lodging
  • Travel
  • Program Costs and Student Aid

Explore the transition from city to jungle in a picturesque drive from Bangalore city to the field station via Karnataka’s iconic ancient capital city of Mysore. Explore local perspectives on wildlife with a visit to India’s oldest zoo, the Mysore Zoo.

Drive through Nagarhole National Park, viewing wildlife in a natural setting, and live at a field station that directly abuts protected land. Enjoy views of gaur, elephants, cats, and 40+ bird species directly from camp.

Enjoy a boat cruise among the myriad migrants and endemic avifauna of Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary.

Map out and explore the community food web in the area and find solutions to several disturbance scenarios as a final field project.

Conduct a ten-day biodiversity survey to add to the continuous field data collected at the site – your data will have a direct impact on the future of this field site and its preservation as a privately owned conservation concession.

Investigate recent instances of human-wildlife conflict in the area over the last two years to get real-world perspectives on the efficacy of various strategies to maintain the harmonious coexistence of megafauna in one of the most human-dense places on earth. 

This course will provide you with basic field skills as well as in-depth exposure to the conservation and ecology of the diverse wildlife and habitats of India. These include:

  • Forest navigation and orienteering, on and off trail
  • Maintenance of an up-to-date field journal
  • Identification of common wildlife species
  • Upkeep of detailed and accurate wildlife sightings lists
  • Mammalian natural history and evolution
  • Mammalian diversity and conservation
  • In-depth views into the iconic mammals of the area
  • Tree-climbing
  • Camera-trapping
  • Ecosystem services and the community food web for mammals
  • Mammalian, avian, and herpetofaunal survey methods
  • A news-based investigative approach to documenting human-wildlife conflicts in the area

Gideon Erkenswick Watsa is a wildlife biologist with a special focus on the disease ecology of primates. He is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Missouri Saint Louis and has worked for a decade in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest as well as for three years in the Western Ghats on primate health monitoring in the context of zoonotic diseases. He is an expert tree-climber and tracker, with experience in radio telemetry  and camera-trap monitoring of mammals. Ultimately, he works with both the field and laboratory sides of parasitology, including metagenomics of primate parasite communities. 

Read his full bio here

Mrinalini Erkenswick Watsa is a wildlife biologist who works on the reproductive biology of mammals, and primates in particular. She taught biological anthropology at Washington University in Saint Louis and now teaches full-time for Field Projects International. Her research spans wildlife handling, field sampling, behavioral observations and molecular ecology with a focus on genetics. She has participated in over 400 captures of wild primates for health screening and monitoring and has extensive experience in biodiversity monitoring techniques over the last decade. 

Read her full bio here.  

There are a few simple requirements to determine eligibility for this course:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age at the time of the course.
  • You must have medical insurance, and provide proof of such insurance to us to complete your reservation.
  • We have no citizenship requirements. Anyone is welcome to apply. You must obtain visas independently if necessary.
  • You do not need any training in biology – our course is structured to accommodate people from a variety of backgrounds.
  • Courses have a maximum capacity of 12 participants. If you are concerned that you will lose your spot, please contact us to confirm how many spots we have left.

  • Course readings: These are to be read before the course to serve as a basis of discussion and debate during the course. Reading assignments are subject to slight modification until November 1. Files will be mailed to course attendees one month before the course start date. Download the reading list
  • Download the Syllabus: HERE
  • Download our Sexual and Gender-Based Policy: HERE
  • Download our Student Policy Manual: HERE

Breakfasts will be provided at your hotel while in Mysore and Bangalore.  However, individual lunches and dinners in Mysore and Bangalore will not be covered by the program. We do this to avoid conflict when it comes to eating, since people have very different ideas on what constitutes a good meal. Meals are very affordable; for e.g., a very fancy dinner at a very nice restaurant will cost ~$10. All other meals can be purchased for much less than that amount. You will thus be responsible for approximately 3 or 4 meals during the travel days of the course. Scholarship students – all your food will be covered by the course, including meals in Bangalore and Mysore.

At the field station, all meals are covered for everyone. You will be provided with three meals each day – breakfast (~8:30 am), lunch (~1:30 pm) and dinner (~ 8:30 pm). These meals are healthy and will fill you up, but this being the middle of the rainforest, don’t expect to get all your food groups represented in the same way you try to eat while you are at home. If you are concerned, take a multi-vitamin while at the field station. The field station is lucky to have an absolutely fabulous cook, who can make the most incredible dishes with basic and wholesome ingredients. The food will be traditional Indian food from the region in Kerala – this includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, and specialties like appams and fish curries from the region. Vegetarians never have a problem in India, and have plenty of options. Being vegan or gluten free at this field site is not recommended.

You will also have access to tea and coffee during the day, as and when you wish to have some (while you are at camp). If you think you will do better with cliff bars or other snacks, please bring some for yourself. Any additional treats you bring (like energy bars or chocolate) will be fair game for a lot of small rainforest creatures. So, bring plenty of ziplock bags in which to place your food and avoid leaving wrappers in your rooms containing anything at all edible because that will attract some curiosity from miniature wildlife.

Air travel: Getting to India from a different country is accomplished primarily by air. We recommend using Kayak, Orbitz or Expedia to book your flights online. Please do not book flights until October 1 for this course.

The course will be held from January 1st to the 13th, 2018. This means that you should plan to arrive in Bangalore, India, before 9 am on January 1st, or any time on December 31, 2017. US residents, due to the time difference, you could have to leave home as early as the morning of December 30th to arrive on time. Please keep this in mind while booking your flights.

Your return flight should depart from Bangalore after 8 pm on January 13th, 2018. 

If you choose to stay on in Bangalore or Mysore, you may. We can provide hotel recommendations for you in both cities. Please note: If you choose to fly out earlier or arrive later than the stipulated times for this course, you will be ENTIRELY responsible for traveling to or from the field station on your own. The group will travel together at a fixed time and we cannot accommodate mistakes in flight plans at all. Please see the FAQs below for information on visas and vaccines.

As with all of our courses, a comprehensive travel packet that contains information on when and how to book your travel, visas, vaccinations, and packing tips, will be made available to all students. This packet is provided to students once they have registered for the course.

Special: Two spots in the course are reserved for Indian Citizens residing in India and will be provided on a first-come first-serve basis. The cost for attending the course is Rs. 50,000, and includes everything in the list below. To qualify for this fee please email us at info@fieldprojects.org immediately and do not apply directly

The fee for this course for all other students is $2700 and includes the following:

  • Food and lodging for the entire course.
  • Round-trip travel to Fringe Ford field station via Mysore from Bangalore.
  • Experienced instructors and field equipment.

This course fee does NOT include:

  • International travel to and from Bangalore, India.
  • Travel or health insurance (proof of health insurance is required for course attendance).
  • Rubber boots, binoculars, flashlight and insect repellent (all of which are required to take this course).

There are two ways to obtain financial assistance for attending this field course. You may participate in both of these programs simultaneously as follows:

  • Scholarships: This year, we are offering two scholarships to attend this course, one targeting an Indian citizen and the other open to applicants of other nationalities. For the application details please visit our scholarships page.
  • Fundraising: FPI can now provide a peer-to-peer crowd funding platform for all field course students. You will be able to make your own fundraising page to share with your contacts and social networks. At the end of the fundraising period, FPI will issue a discount code to you for 100% of the funds that you have raised. You would then enter this code as you make your final course payment. If you raise enough to cover all (or part) of your initial reservation fee, you would be refunded that portion as well. Please note that funds raised in excess of your program fees will be rolled into our scholarship fund. Also, if you withdraw from the course at any time, your donors cannot get a refund. In this case, all of those funds would also roll over into our scholarship fund for other students. To set up this option, please register for a course, first, and then contact us at info@fieldprojects.org to set up your fundraising page.

Please read our cancellation policy carefully before applying to a field course:

  • $100 of your deposit made during registration is a processing fee that is nonrefundable under any circumstances.
  • If you cancel on or before the registration deadline of Monday, November 6th, 2017, we will refund all course fees paid in full (except for the processing fee of $100).
  • If you cancel your reservation by December 1, 2017, you will be refunded 40% of your course fee.
  • Course fees cannot be refunded for cancellations made after December 1, 2017.
  • If FPI has to cancel this course due to mitigating reasons, a full refund of all fees paid, including the registration fee, will be made available to all participants.
  • Early departures from the field course are not entitled to a refund for any reason.


Frequently Asked Questions

If you don’t find the answers you are looking for below, please contact us.

Course Benefits

Can I get credit for a course?

There are two ways in which you can obtain credit for this course. First, participants can acquire credit directly from their own universities. You would provide your university with the course syllabus, and the school may decide to accept the instructor’s grade and issue credit for the course. Second, you can sign up for credit as an external student with University College at Washington University in Saint Louis. If you are interested in this second option, please contact us at info@fieldprojects.org for further information on this option. 

I'm an international student, so what about credit for me?

The United States university system runs on credits – typically 2 to 4 per class. A student needs a certain number of credits to eventually graduate with a bachelors’ degree. However, this system has little to no meaning outside the US itself, and thus, when we offer credits, we are primarily targeting those students within the US to whom this is relevant. Course credit is therefore only available to students in the US, or possibly countries like Canada, who can transfer credits from US Universities to their own institutions to apply towards their degrees.

For all other students — and there have been plenty who have attended our courses — you receive many other benefits to taking the course, such as:

  1. A certificate from FPI showing that you attended and completed the course
  2. A detailed report of your performance and your final grade, which you can share with future employers or anyone else in any manner you wish to.

To be perfectly clear: You are not required to sign up for credits in the US university system if you come from a country in which this system is itself not recognized. Furthermore, there is no requirement for US students to take this course for credit either. Course credit is an optional item and will incur credit fees from the university in question.

Is signing up for credit the right thing for me?

Questions to ask yourself before signing up for credit:

1. Will my university accept transfer credits from another university? Please consult your advisor and confirm this before signing up, because this is not the responsibility of either the university or Field Projects International

2. Can I afford to take the course for credit? The credit costs are paid directly to the university while the course fee is paid to FPI. Both will be necessary before you can take the course for credit.

Will I receive any official acknowledgement of course completion?

Yes, upon finishing with a passing grade, you will receive a certificate that states that you attended and completed a particular course. It will list the techniques you were taught on the course. This can be very useful in the future when you require recommendation letters for summer internship programs, graduate schools, or jobs from your course instructor.

Why take this course?

Apart from the valuable skills, knowledge, and experience you will acquire, FPI encourages alumni to network, support, and collaborate with each other after the course is completed.  In addition, our staff remains available for academic and career advice. Many of our students have returned as research assistants, and later even joined us as research collaborators, field team leaders, and instructors.

Other than specific training that will benefit those going into many fields, our courses also entail pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and being challenged both mentally and physically. Furthermore, this is a chance to visit a remote research station in one of the most bio-diverse regions of the planet, and to learn about the incredible flora and fauna you will see at every turn. 

 

Preparing to travel to India

What should I bring with me?

Download a packing list here. If you have questions, please email us at info@fieldprojects.org
How do I deal with Indian money?

The currency in India is the Indian Rupee. We say 1 “rupee” and each rupee contains 100 “paisa”, the equivalent of cents. The currency exchange rate is ~ Rs. 67 to 1 USD, but this can change so be sure to check at this site closer to your travel date.  Changing US dollars in India is not a difficult thing to do; we recommend you bring brand new, high-denomination bills, without any blemishes on them, for a bank to exchange them for you. You can find currency exchanges easily in the airport in Bangalore as well as in Bangalore and Mysore cities. However, the easiest way to get money is to use an ATM via a credit or debit card. The closest ATM machine to the field station is at Talapoya village, ~11 km from camp. Mananthavadi, ~19 km from the station, has SBI and HDFC banks which will exchange currency directly as well.

Things to consider: Bring two cards, in case one doesn’t work. Test that your pins work on both of your cards before you come to India. The most you can withdraw in a single day from an ATM is Rs. 10,000 or USD $156. ATM charges can apply, including conversion fees, so check with your bank about that. Withdrawing from an ATM is convenient, and prevents you from carrying around a lot of cash, which is always a much safer way to travel.

Traveler’s checks are entirely a thing of the past – just don’t buy them!

You do not need to have cash on you while at the field station except for possibly Rs.5000 at the very most, for emergencies. There’s nothing to buy, no stores to spend it on; cash, in short, is irrelevant in the rainforest.

However, during our first two days in Mysore, you will indeed want to have money on you to pay for any extras you might buy at a market, or for extra snacks or water for the drives, for example. How much you wish to withdraw will be up to you. See below for the expenses that will be covered by the course.

What's the lowdown on footwear?

You will require gumboots or knee-high rubber boots for all activities at the field station. You should buy these from home and not count on buying them locally.  Select a natural colored or black pair – polka dots would ensure all wildlife running away from you. You will wear these boots every single day while you are in the forest, so if you’re buying them new, break them in if you can. If you have sensitive feet with arch trouble, please bring insoles for your boots.

A pair of sneakers will come in handy during your travels and for use while at camp itself. You will never wear flip-flops at camp, for your own safety. You may however prefer to bring a pair so that you can wear them to or in the shower, or in the earlier period of your stay in Mysore and Bangalore.

What kind of luggage should I use?

Pack in something you can carry on your shoulders if necessary. Suitcases are not very practical at all. We recommend bringing a big duffel bag, or a backpack with most of your things in it.  You’ll also need a small daypack when on site to take with you on all your hikes. Make sure that it is large enough to carry a field notebook, small medical kit, and a water bottle or two.

What do I need in the forest?

The most important things you need in the forest that this course will NOT be providing are your hiking backpack, a water bottle, rubber boots, a head lamp, and a pair of binoculars. Check your packing list for more details on these items. In addition, some things to consider bringing include a penknife (check it in, don’t hand carry – it will get caught), a bandana or hat, and energy bars as an extra snack.

Note: There are no mosquitoes at this site due to the elevation in altitude, so there is no need to use insect repellent while in Fringe Ford. However, it will definitely come in handy in Bangalore and Mysore. However, there are ticks you can pick up during hiking at Fringe Ford, so please bring some repellent that contains DEET for spraying on your clothes alone.

What about battery-operated equipment?

You will need to use a battery-operated headlamp with LEDs at this site. This headlamp will be your best friend and is useful since it is hands-free. If you’re interested in seeing wildlife at night, bring one that is bright and that has a red light option, as the red light doesn’t scare nocturnal animals as much. Headlamps will need batteries and we strongly suggest that you bring rechargeable batteries with you.  This means that you must also obtain a small battery charger. If you can’t and have to bring regular batteries please buy energy efficient ones so you use as few as possible, since you will have to take all batteries back with you and recycle them (you cannot leave them at the field station). Please se the see the section on electronics for how to manage voltage issues.

Do I need a watch or alarm clock?

Yes. Make sure that you have something extremely reliable as an alarm clock – whether you use your phone or watch is up to you. Please buy a digital watch with a repeat timer – this last factor is essential in allowing you to collect data while on the course. When at the store, please specifically ask if you can set a timer for a specific duration (eg. 1 minute) that will continually beep every minute. That is what we mean by a repeat timer. If in doubt, purchase this watch from Amazon, or something like it.

How do I care for my passport and papers?

Passports are valuable items that you want to protect from mold in the rainforest. There’s only one way to do this and that is to put them in small ziplock bags (double-bag them) and then leave them entirely alone.  I would do the same with any cash you bring with you also. Paper gets moldy very quickly.

What is the weather like at the field station?

The weather at the station in January is typically warm and pleasant (from 23C to 28C or 73F to 90F) during the day, but you might feel a bit chilly at night when it goes down to 9C (or 48F). So, bring a jacket or sweater and something warm to wear to sleep in as well. If you tend to feel colder than most, bring a little more warm clothing than listed above. Remember that it is better to be over prepared than under prepared in this regard – there will be no way to go out and purchase additional clothing if you are missing anything.

What medications should I bring?

The field station and the course do not provide any medications to students. As such, they must bring a small medical kit for minor issues:

– A course of broad-spectrum antibiotics (ciprofloxacin is a common and effective one)

– A course of antibiotics for digestive trouble, and a small number of pills of immodium (to be used in emergencies only)

– Electrolyte/rehydration packs (hint: the juice flavoured ones are much nicer than the medical ones)

– Anti-fungal cream/powder (effective on yeast), particularly if you are prone to these infections

– Anti-itch medication: over-the counter lotions are ok

– Antacids to comfort your stomach

– Band aids, tweezers

–  An Epi pen if you are allergic to anything at all

– Antihistamines to be taken in case of mild allergies (something like Claritin/ Zyrtec)

– A venom extraction kit: don’t worry, we don’t get snake bites, but these are useful in case of wasp or bee stings.

What vaccinations do I need?

You will have to provide proof of a normal vaccination record (as listed here by the CDC). For travel to India, we require that you also get the following vaccines: Typhoid (oral or injectable) and Hepatitis A. It is additionally recommended to speak with your doctor or a travel clinic about the Japanese encephalitis vaccine, and to follow their expert advice in this matter. If you have the current flu shot for the year as well, all the better. Find a travel clinic and get your shots EARLY.

You may consider taking malaria prophylaxis if you like, particularly for your stay in Mysore and Bangalore. There are no mosquitoes at the field station so the risk of catching malaria while there is minimal. Please follow your health care provider’s recommendations in this regard.

The CDC’s recommendations for travelers to India may be found here.

What about health and safety?

We take the health and safety of all participants very seriously at this site.  We look out for each other and take care of our team. The field site has stringent protocols on safety procedures in the case of an emergency that we are obliged to follow.  If anyone should need medical help, they can be transported by car to town in a matter of 30 minutes, where they can be treated or evacuated to Mysore or Bangalore for treatment.

It is advisable for participants to sign up for medivac insurance, as neither the field station nor FPI will be responsible for costs associated with medical emergencies, however dire.

Before being accepted to the program, applicants must submit a medical history evaluation. This is not meant to discriminate against people, but instead to protect them from being in a situation where they are at a serious or life-threatening disadvantage. All participants must sign a participation contract, without which applicants cannot participate in our courses or research programs.

We make special references to an alcohol policy in our participation contract – we have a zero tolerance policy at this particular field station. You will also sign a sexual and gender-based misconduct contract (and so will your supervisors). This is not to suggest that this issue is a problem at this field site in particular. However, there has been a large amount of reporting on these matters in the press of late, and we want to assure you that we take any such violations extremely seriously. We want our students to be as safe and comfortable as possible.

 

Field Station Amenities

 

How do I care for electronics at the field station?

We strongly encourage you to bring your laptops to the field station, as well as your cell phones. They will come in handy for data entry, entertainment, and for completing assignments. Electronics have to be treated differently in the rainforest than you would anywhere else. Do not bother to bring a soft sleeve for the laptop with you, because it will suck up moisture from the air and will envelope your laptop in it, which is bad news. We find that simple plastic ziplock bags work better than sports dry bags. We recommend that you purchase at least two ziplock bags that are large enough to fit your computer. You can also purchase silicon gel packages online (Amazon or Jake’s Silica Gel are good places to try, along with local stores like REI). Put a couple of 5 gram packets inside the ziplock with your computer and bring at least 2 more packets with you.

India uses a different set of plugs than the US or England. The project will have extension cords and power strips that will accept US plugs; however, if you want to plug things in while you travel, you should consider picking up a small converter for your electronics that will fit plugs in India (see here for a full explanation). The Indian system uses 220 – 240 volts, instead of 120/140 volts as in the US. Please CHECK your electronics to make sure they are compatible before plugging them in at the station or anywhere in India. If they don’t work at both voltages, you will need to bring a step up converter such as this one.  Also note that you will not find three-pronged sockets in most places, so definitely at least bring a three to two modifier (such as this) for your electronics.

Electricity at the field station is available all day around, technically speaking. However, power failures can occur, so expect to spend some nights in candle light. You may certainly bring solar chargers if you feel the need to, but most of the day you will not be using your electronics at all.

Do not bring a hair dryer, electric razor, or electric toothbrush because those are very much considered an unnecessary luxury at this site. We will prioritize charging absolutely everything else over those items.

Is there internet at the field station?

Wireless internet is simply not available at this site, so please do not count on sending daily email updates. We will provide for a trip to town midway to the course during which you can make phone calls and check email, but please do not expect to have internet connectivity in Fringe Ford. You will have internet connectivity in Bangalore and Mysore, however.

Is there phone service at the field station?

Phone signals are available through most of India – but the field station is in a steep valley and thus, has found a blind spot. This actually really adds to the charm of the experience. In an emergency, we can drive a couple of kilometers away to catch a signal but do not count on having it at the field station itself. Also, during some of your hikes that take you up the hills nearby, you can catch cell phone signals for all the Indian providers.

In Bangalore and Mysore, you can get connected to the main network “Airtel” from anywhere.  Contact your cell service provider and make sure that you can pick up this network’s service while in India. Then, purchase an international calling plan, pre-paid minutes, or some kind of international texting plan. This will allow you to communicate with your family at home, during those first few days, or in the middle and end of the course when we return to town.

If you have a smartphone, download Viber and Whatsap – both apps will allow you to stay connected with instructors while negotiating airport pickups, etc.

How do I do laundry at the field station?

There is a small but functional washing machine on site and laundry will be done for you on site. If you have any special needs in terms of detergent, please bring something different with you but basic detergent is provided at the site. Your clothes will be dried on the line on the property.

What is the risk of disease in the Western Ghats?

This is the south Indian rainforest, and as with all tropical areas, there are disease risks. Unlike towns, however, this field station does not hold enough people to serve as constant reservoirs for many diseases.

As such, malaria is not found at this site, and no one on our team takes malaria prophylactics. Your travel doctor will most likely disagree because their information is about the region in general, and it is true that malaria can be contracted in Mananthavadi, Mysore and Bangalore. As such, the choice to take malaria prophylactics is entirely personal – if you feel better about it, take the medication.

Leeches are of slight concern at this site, only in that they make hiking somewhat more of an adventure. You will be wearing high boots during hikes, and the field station will provide you with leech socks that do not allow leeches to come into contact with your skin. You will also hike with a salt container to gently dislodge leeches from your boots if they climb too high. However unnerving this sounds remember the following facts: a) leeches are not known to carry any diseases at all, b) they form a large food source for a variety of animals and are an integral part of the ecosystem in these forests, c) if you do get bitten, you will not even notice for they are completely painless and once a leech feeds, it will drop off naturally, and d) as policy, we will not be harming leeches at this site.

Travel in Bangalore

 

Visas

Visas are required for travel to India for citizens of many countries. To apply for a visa, use the following websites or contact us for more information if you can’t locate it online: Travisa or Cox and Kings

You can get an e-tourist visa as a US citizen applying for an Indian visa, which is a quick way to get a visa upon arrival in India by acquiring prior electronically generated approval in the US. The final stamp in your passport happens when you land in India, after biometrics are taken at the airport. Note: You must not apply earlier than 34 days before you travel to India, processing time is ~3 business days, and it costs $49 with Travisa. You have to provide a valid passport and confirmed round-trip flight tickets to apply. It will only allow you to enter the country once, for a total duration of 30 days. You cannot leave to visit any other neighboring country and return back to India to catch a flight to the US with this visa i.e. this is a single-entry and NOT a multiple-entry visa. You also can only have 2 such visas in a 12-month.

You can also apply for a traditional tourist visa, which can take a little longer to process and which involves sending your passport to an agency and getting it returned. You can, however, get a ten-year multiple entry tourist visa for ~$125 with a 6-10 business day turnaround, depending on where you live in the US and which consulate you approach. This visa should allow you to enter and leave the country freely during your stay, facilitating any additional travel in the region if you so desire.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, Travisa is probably a good agency to use since it does offer some global services. Otherwise, contact your local Indian consulate and ask them for help. In many countries, it’s possible to walk-in your papers to the consulate in-person and get a visa both quickly and independent of any agency. In some others, you have to go through an agency. This will vary by country.

IMPORTANT: If you are Indian by origin, or have recently switched from Indian to other citizenship, you have somewhat of a longer road ahead of you, so begin the visa process quickly for it can take ~2 months to complete.

Registration with local police at the field station

As a matter of routine, the field station will follow its own protocol to register all visiting foreigners with the local police department. In order to do this, all students must carry the following to the field station:

  1. Two photocopies of your passport
  2. Two passport sized photographs

Please note: This rule applies to people with OCI or PIO cards (equivalents of Indian green cards).

Spending time in India before or after the course

If you have arrive before the course begins, you can take a bus or train from another city in India to Bangalore. We cannot advise you on where to visit – the country is enormous and full of things to see – but we recommend purchasing a Lonely Planet guide and working from there. If you arrive in Bangalore on an earlier date or via a mode of transportation other than plane, we cannot offer you a pick up. However, given that you have been in the country already, we can assist you with arranging for a cab to bring you to your hotel.

When you leave the field station, we will provide transport back to Bangalore to the airport. We cannot change routes to drop you elsewhere, so please be considerate of this fact. If you choose to travel from Manathavadi (the nearest town to Fringe Ford) on your own, we can drop you in town before the group leaves at the end of the course. The rest of your trip will be your own responsibility.

Getting to the field station from Bangalore

Step One: You will be taken to a meeting point for the group from the airport from which we will depart in a convoy of cars operated by your instructors. The drive will take approximately 4 hours, with a stop for lunch along the way. Please bring medication with you if you tend to get car sickness. We hope to be in Mysore soon after lunch, where you will be checked in to a hotel along with the rest of the group. That afternoon, we will visit the oldest zoo in the nation (begun in the late 1800s)

Step Two: We will then spend a night in Mysore, acclimatizing to jet lag, new food, the culture, and immersing ourselves in both natural and historical sights in the city. We will visit Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary on the morning of the 2nd of January 

Step Three: Next, we will drive to the field station using a slow route, on the afternoon of the 2nd of January. The idea is to spend time viewing wildlife in the forests as we go, and to arrive at the field station by dinner time. Fringe Ford is located in Kerala, one state over from Karnataka, of which Bangalore is the capital. The closest town to Fringe Ford is Mananthavadi.

Our Return: At the end of the course, we will drive directly from Fringe Ford to Bangalore, leaving soon after breakfast and arriving before rush hour that evening. This is sufficiently early for you to catch a flight out back to your home that very night, but please make sure your flight leaves well after 8 pm if you can. The return car journey should take ~7 hours to complete.

Airport pickups and other arrival details

When all students on the course have submitted their travel information form (see above), we will collate this information and send you an Arrival Plan. This document will let you know if others are traveling on the same flight/bus as you and provide you with their email addresses so you can get in touch in advance (if you want to).  You will also receive exact instructions on what to do when you land, and an image of your instructors so you can look out for us at the airport/bus station. More importantly, we will provide you with instructions on what to do if you find out that you have been delayed. The Arrival Plan will also include local contact information for your instructors so that you can get in touch with them if needed to let them know if your travel plans were forced to change for some reason.

Please do not panic about being picked up at an airport or not knowing who will do this until you receive the Arrival Plan. That plan will contain all the information you need. Expect it to arrive electronically just before Christmas.

Course Information
  • Course Id:I-JA2018
  • Credits:3 credits equivalency
  • Location:Fringe Ford, India
  • Dates:December 31, 2017 to January 13, 2018
  • Duration:2 weeks
  • Deadline:November 6, 2017
  • Language:English
Itinerary
December 31: Arrive in Bangalore
January 1: Travel to Mysore
January 2: Travel to Fringe Ford
January 13: Return to Bangalore to catch flight back home the same day

(Indian Citizens see left for application instructions)

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