Three eco-awareness and training camps were conducted for the Forest Department personnel of Cumbum, Gudalur, Chinnamanur and Varahanadi (Theni) watersheds under the Western Ghats Development Programme (WGDP). The camps were presided by the Assistant Conservator of Forests, Shri T. Muthukumar and the Range Forest Officers of Cumbum, Shri V. Rajamohan, Gudalur (Shri Ramakrishnan), Chinnamanur (Shri Rajendran) and Theni (Shri Chandrashekar). It was attended by the foresters, guards and watchers of their respective ranges. The camps were meant to be a refresher course in field identification and tracking. More than just a presentation, this camp was conducted as an interactive session with the personnel.

In each camp, the session began with an introduction to the varied types of forests followed by a slide-show of the mammals and birds found in the forests of southern India. Each fauna's behaviour, identification characteristics, distribution, IUCN status and schedule in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 of India were explained in detail. Endemic mammals of the Western Ghats like Nilgiri tahr, lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri langur, slender loris, grizzled giant squirrel, etc., were highlighted.

Top domain carnivores like tigers, leopards and wild dogs were given their due importance and the indirect evidence of their presence and/or movement like scat, pug marks, scrape and territorial marks, hair and fur etc., were discussed.

This was followed by a session on reading tiger pug marks, differentiating male and female tigers, etc. It was stated that pug marks/casts were no longer considered a standard in trying to determine the tiger population/density of an area since they are prone to individual interpretation. Nonetheless, they are excellent indicators of presence, size and frequency of use of the animal(s) in that particular area and are excellent aids in tracking.

Lesser known mammals like small Indian civet, brown palm civet, Indian palm civet, Indian grey mongoose, stripe-necked mongoose, mouse deer, four-horned antelope, blackbuck, Indian striped hyena, Indian fox, golden jackal, porcupine, barking deer etc., were discussed with photographs.

The next session was devoted to birds. The rare and endemic birds of the Western Ghats were discussed in detail viz., the great pied hornbill, Malabar grey hornbill, emerald dove, Malabar whistling thrush, grey francolin, etc.

Insects, mainly butterflies and moths were discussed along with their habits. Their importance in creating a balanced ecosystem was delved into.

During the discussion of the forest types, the contribution of forests in general to economy and ecology and their primary importance as a source of water was stressed upon. Threats to forests in the form of human habitation, encroachments, plantations and estates, forest fires, poaching, roads, dams and reservoirs were individually discussed.

The critical need for the protection of species and habitat was emphasized with maps showing the historical distribution of Asian elephants and their current distribution.

Two posters, one of common mammals of south India and other of forest birds of South India, were handed out to each participant. They were also given a field notepad and pen to keep track of their sightings.

Screening of the short documentary, “The Truth About Tigers” (narrated in Tamil) by renowned wildlife filmmaker Shri. Shekhar Dattatri marked the end of the day's session.