Conserving biodiversity in the Terai, WWF Honours its Foot soldiers
Both Prem Chand and Kandhai Lal have toiled in the landscape for nine years. But that’s not all they have in common. They have gone above and beyond their roles as driver and assistant project officer, respectively, andplayed crucial roles in mediating with the community to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, and with forest officials to improve monitoring and enforcement. They have learnt the art of convincing and the science of conservation while performing their primary roles in a manner par excellence.
Prem Chand’s noteworthy accomplishment can be best demonstrated in the following story. A tigress and three subadult cubs have been roaming the farmlands outside Pilibhit Tiger Reserve for the past two years. Villagers cultivating the fields have complained that the tigers pose a danger to them and their cattle. These complaints are often cloaked in poaching and retaliatory killing threats. Prem Chand has worked hard to track the four tigers using camera traps, and has used the information to help villagers avoid chance encounters. The villagers have been appeased and, thus far, no incident or conflict has arisen between the tiger family and the villages they have chosen to call home. When receiving the Award for Meritorious Service, a shy Prem Chand said that he realized the importance of all life, big and small, through his work at WWF.
Patience is key to conservation, and that’s a virtue Kandhai Lal has no dearth of. When Pilibhit Forest Division was promoted to Tiger Reserve status, it was faced with a new challenge: the title and regulations were novel but the patrollers and their skills weren’t. Kandhai Lal worked feverishly to train the forest guards in new and improved GPS-based patrolling techniques— a task that took several workshops in the past year. With his dedication, two ranges out of five are now being patrolled in a manner fit for a Tiger Reserve. Kandhai Lal’s humble response when awarded the distinction was that he believed every task, no matter how small, needed to be carried out with utmost sincerity and dedication. He certainly livesout his belief.
In the past, Dr. Harish Guleria and Kudan Singh from the Terai Arc Landscape have been awarded the Award for Meritorious Service.