The thought of writing this blog came to me when someone asked me if people lived inside tiger reserves? While answer is No, I thought of putting it in a different perspective.

There are people who gave up their homes/careers for jungles and now they are living along the edges of forest. They are biggest stake holders of our forests and wild spirits.

Abandoned school in Tadoba Tiger Reserve. Now it is completely demolished.

Human interaction with wild animal is very limited in national parks. The human stake holders are of many kind: from the locals to government to tourists. Let us have a quick look at each one of these.

1. Local villagers: These are people living along perimeters of forests. They are essentially the one who were displaced out of jungles to make space for wild life. Well compensated they are the ones who are directly benefited by any commercial activity related to park.

Enjoying my cup of tea from local store at Melghat Tiger Reserve at Seemadoh.

2. Forest Department: Day to day management of park is monitored and controlled by forest department of state. Patrolling jungles for forest fires and conducting anti-poaching activities are key functions. Not limited to these they are also responsible to ensure tourism and any other commercial activity like providing basic lodging facilities for guests visiting jungles. The permits to access jungle as tourist is direct function of forest department. To summarise they are accountable towards preserving our natural heritage.

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The official care takers of forests !!

3. NGO/Civil Bodies/Pvt institutions: These are independent institutions which ensure welfare of local community by training and are in involved in skill development of locals. Running community programs with support of forest department there are many such organisation’s that exist in India like WCT, Last wilderness foundation etc. Whole idea is development of locals.

4. Special Government Bodies: These are autonomous bodies appointed by Union government to formulate guidelines and supervise operations of national parks. Example: National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is the highest body for tiger conservation. All tiger reserves have to adhere to their guidelines.

5. Forest – guards and workers: They are eyes and ears of forest department. These are generally locals who know the forests in and out. Extremely hardworking and diligent they cover huge range on foot or two wheeler to ensure effective monitoring of activities inside jungle.

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Forest workers ensure fires do not spread across due to dry leaves. They risk with their life to protect forests. Image captured at Corbett National Park.
A very basic accommodation facility inside Kanha National Park for forest guards to stay.

6.Safari drivers and guides: These are local people who take guests inside park. These are knowledge house of jungle. Masters of local topography they are well versed with jungle. They can make or break your safari experience.

Gang of guides at Moharli gate of Tadoba National Park.

6. Hotels/Resorts/Home stays: Located along periphery of forest these are places for lodging and stay. Luxury properties operated by Taj to boutique ones like Pugdundee can be found across all popular forests. Basic budget facilities are also provided by forest department guest houses and local home stays. To summarise you have lot of options to stay depending on your taste and budget. But nothing can beat charm of staying inside the jungle. My favourite is FRH Kolkhaz – Melghat Tiger Reserve and FRH – Dhikala range of Jim Corbett National Park.

Kolkhaz guest house – Close up. Image credit to photographer. Not my image.
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Location of Kolkhaz FRH in Melghat Tiger Reserve makes it my favourite place of stay inside jungle seconded only by Dhikala FRH in Corbett. Image credit to photographer and thanks to office of CCF &FD , Melghat Tiger Reserve for sharing image.
Tree house by Pugdundee Safaris-  a boutique resort at Bandhavgarh,  where I stayed few years ago.

7. Naturalists: Mostly well read and knowledgeable these are people who have exceptional knowledge of flora and fauna but not limited to park where they work. Many resort provide exclusive services of naturalist. Can be a local or otherwise.

8. Wild lifers: These are people who love going to jungle for no apparent reason. They just like the peace and calm of forest. They enjoy presence of birds and animals around them. They have calling for wild.

9. Photographers: Primary definition is people who earn money by selling images by creating them in wild. They are full timers and can be easily identified by heavy camera gear and missile like lenses. They can double up as photography tour operators or photography mentors too.

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Photographer can be easily identified by camera lenses and removed second row seats 🙂

10. Privately guided safari Operators: Unlike tour agents, they are expert at planning safaris and take people to jungles. Their expertise is networking with all above stake holders and ensuring memorable experience for guests/tourists.

11. Tourists: People who visit forest once in a while to explore enjoy and relax. They are least concerned about anything but to rejuvenate their spirit. Bucket Lister’s who focus on one time experience.

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Tiger walks- Tiger tourism follows!

Next question thrown to me, which category do you belong?

I am a passionate wild lifer! I love spending time with spirits of wild. Photography just happened, it just came along. This addiction to jungle and photography is pushing me to become guide to wilds. Guide to urban denizens, taking the unaware urban denizens to meet spirits of wild.

Wild lifer/Photographer/blogger/guide – I would prefer to call myself as voice for the spirits of wild!

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