BHOPAL: Kanha and Pench have now an added star attraction other than tigers — women safari guides. Long considered as a male bastion, two dozen women guides are introducing wildlife lovers to the rich flora and fauna in the two tiger reserves.
What comes in handy is like their male counterparts, these women guides are also of tribal background.
Thirteen out of the 150 guides at Kanha and 11 of the 83 guides at Pench are women. Most of them are wives or sisters of daily wagers in the forest department, especially Gypsy drivers.
Interestingly, two of the 13 women guides in Kanha are sisters Seema and Reshma.
While 31-year-old post graduate and mother of two kids, Seema represents the first batch of registered and trained women guides who started working in 2011, her younger sister Reshma, 26, is an arts graduate who wants to make this profession her permanent calling.
“We’re natives of Balaghat’s Mukki village, which lies in the reserve’s core area. We’ve grown up listening to wild animals, including tigers. We are blessed with the skill of identifying the genre of different birds merely on the basis of their unique chirping sounds,” Reshma told this newspaper.
Reshma, who joined the profession in 2018, was among the 15-odd women who had first formed a SHG and operated a canteen with the forest department’s help at Kanha.
Impressed with the commitment of the women guides, the Kanha and Pench administration are contemplating to enrol more of them.
“We’re scrutinizing the services of the 150 guides and have found that some male guides are not regular or committed to work. We might deregister such guides and replace them with women guides,” Kanha Tiger Reserve Field Director SK Singh said.