Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sasan Gir National Park Junagadh District Gujarat India

If you are in the Gir forests to watch the Asiatic lion, don’t be surprised to find women forest guards in the woods. It’s another male bastion which has been busted.

Gujarat forest department has sought to break the barrier, by introducing for the first time a large number of women guards and foresters in the jungles.

Of the 307 forest guards recruited through special camps in districts over the last one year, 51 are women. And out of 180 foresters recruited at four zonal camps held this May in Surat, Junagadh, Vadodara and Gandhinagar as many as 44 are women.

Till these recruitment, there were just two women working in the forests and both were Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers. Anita Karn is posted in Junagadh and Aradhana Sahu in Mehsana.

Fourteen women foresters have been posted in Gir and their boss, Anita Karn, is happy to have them around. “They have been quite useful in gathering information, carrying out raids and talking to womenfolk in the forests,” she told TOI over phone.

Aradhana Sahu added: “Lady Forest staffers are proving to be extremely useful in every sector, be it joint forest management, in which involvement of village women is critical, or guiding tourists in the wild and guarding wildlife.”

Forest officials in Gandhinagar say the women were recruited on the basis of their physical fitness and knowledge of neighboring forest areas. The physical test included long jump, high jump and rock-climbing. “We are happy such a large number of women applied for the jobs and also made it in the end,” said a senior forest official.

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