OUR SCREENED GREEN GUIDES
by Raja Chatterjee & Jyotirmayi Banerjee
Wildlife tourism is booming in India and ushered in an era of newer opportunities. The Greenback benefits from it are being ploughed back into development of infrastructure of Tiger Reserves and boosting of local economy. Almost all sections of stakeholders around every Reserve are now enveloped under the philanthropic schemes of Eco Development Committees to ensure forest protection and resource utilisation. This practice, over the years, evolved into a defined segment of secondary park services inter-alia catering, transport and safari guides. The current scenario, has seen an increased influx of tiger-centric tourists, mostly unoriented, depending largely on these nature guides, who play a pivotal role in generating interest by dispensing useful information on wildlife and habitat, facilitating good sightings besides ensuring that the tourists do not out step their boundaries or cause harm to the wildlife. Mostly local youths,as trained guides are the best ambassadors to convey the message of conservation to millions. Amongst this growing band of guides, some are self made, matchless in knowledge and dedication, making in-roads into hearts of tourists.
As a tribute to their contribution at the tourist-Tiger interface, THE JUNGLEES feel proud to honour here three of the frontrunners.
Mr.Tekam is perhaps the finest guide of Kanha Tiger Reserve. In the 8 years since his joining,
he has shown exemplary potential in identifying birds and spotting animals for tourists;earning
him showers of praise invariably. He won almost all the competitions held during the nine-days
training programme for the guides of Kanha&Pench Tiger Reserve. He is educated, articulate and
is always willing to share besides smart policing on tourists on Park discipline makes him a
perfect role model for the guides of KTR. Heaping praises on him the field officer says, “He
has commendably lived up to the expectations of the Park Management as well as the tourists
coming to this renowned wildlife protected area. He possesses all the qualities of an idea
l guide for wildlife tourism. He is thoroughly professional in his job. His interpretive skills
, behaviour and the knowledge of the conservation history and floral and faunal attributes of
the national park are extraordinary”.
Ms. Indra Sudhakaran from Kollampatada
is the most trusted Lieutenant of Vasanthasena (Spring Army), the women protection group of Periyar Tiger Reserve
, Kerala. She leads the ‘Clouds Walk’, an unique and prestigious eco-adventure programme for tourists at
PTR.Indra is the most sought after wildlife guide in Periyar amongst the Indian and foreigners for she
knows the forest terrain like her finger tips and has a good commandover Hindi and English. Her sheer
physical strength with an insatiable thirst of knowledge on wildlife helped her explore every nook and
corner of Periyar over the years. This indomitable spirit has earned her a post in the protection force
for Sandal Wood forests, run by the Kollampatada II Eco Development Committee. An enlightened Indra
always shares her concern in creating environmental awareness amongst the villagers. Powered by her
vision and action, Vasanthasena has already bagged the coveted awards like Amrita Devi Bishnoi Wildlife
Protection Award and P V Thampi award.Ms.Sudhakaran, a mother of two children, showers care equally on
her own and extended families of fellow women in imbibing values of mother earth. May her tribe increase!
Mr. Jodha Singh Baiga, ( 40 yrs.)
Game Watcher, Kanha Tiger Reserve,
Mr. Baigahas served
Kanha since 1987, as a daily wager. A 3rd standard dropout though, his 25 years of game experience,hasseasoned
him thoroughly in hisinterpretive knowledge of wildlife and its habitats. He is hardworking and efficient in
upkeep of the Swamp Deer enclosure and is dedicated in discharging official duties. His intrinsic knowledge
of the forests stems from the fact that he has grown up in the neighbouring jungle, thus gathering a first
hand experience of the habits and habitats of wild animals. His skills are of immense importance for the
day to day practical management of the forest range. The famous Swamp Deer enclosure of Kanha was started
with a founding population of 5 animals and has multiplied to 66 animals under his careful parentage.
Mr.Baiga watches over this enclosure and gives important down to earth inputs on the management of
this Swamp Deer population. He has physically removed pythons about 200 times from this enclosure.
Courageous, honest and brave, Mr.Jodha’s service is also taken up in special operations of wildlife
protection in the tiger reserve.