We all grew up with stories of how well evil can be defeated. Our elders and teachers have taught us how to do good with many good deeds. Yes, we saw them in movies and shows, but have you ever seen them in real life? Likewise, I had only seen her in films. But as part of my 10-day trip to the country of Bodoland, I had the opportunity Meet 4 ex-poachers and interview 1 ex-poacher, How did these ex-poachers turn into wildlife conservationists? Who made this possible? What is the story behind this story? Is this story real?
PIN for later reading (Story of ex-poachers)
History of poaching
Manas National Park, also called Manas Tiger Reserve, is a national park in Assam. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.
Unfortunately, the national park soon fell victim to the armed struggle for a Bodoland state, which separated it from the Assam state. Manas also became a victim of poaching due to the demand for rhinoceros horns and wood in the woods. In addition, no official body wanted to get any closer to the park. The situation worsened when UNESCO declared Manas a World Heritage Site in Danger.
In the late 1980s, Manas’ 100 rhinos were killed and insurgents damaged the park’s infrastructure. This prompted the World Heritage Committee to put Manas on the list of hazards in 1992. In 2011, Manas received World Heritage status to ensure success, and the reintroduction of rhinos was one of the factors.
Economic Times items – May 6th, 2016
In the early 2000s, the entire flora and fauna disappeared. All rhinos were killed and most of the forests were destroyed.
When we visited Manas National Park, four poachers were introduced to me. Among the group was a poacher who had poached for 25 years and killed around 100 elephants. Another poacher had lost his arm to a wild boar while hunting.
If asked why they committed these hideous acts? The most common answer was lack of money. They were poor and it was difficult to find work. And that forced them to kill animals.
And we all had the next question How much money was poached to get them? On top of that, they said that the head / kingpin who ordered to kill an animal would get 2 lakhs rupees for a rhino horn. In total, the group of poachers would receive 15,000 to 20,000 rupees. And killing a rhino would involve a group of 4 to 5 poachers.
Who brought in the change?
The local Bodo villagers decided to take action. It was their home “Manas”. And manas were destroyed and it happened before them. Together with the student council they founded an NGOManas Maozigendri ecotourism societyThe main purpose of this society was to protect manas, its forests and wildlife.
The society’s volunteers initially identified all poachers who destroyed the habitat. Most poachers came from the village or the neighboring villages. They went to their homes to talk, educate them, and influence them by giving up their hand-made weapons. The poachers were advised to become protectors of the forests.
I was also blessed to interview Kalen. President of the Manas Moazigendri Eco Tourism Society, Kalen was one of those people who believed in the change and brought the change. When asked if there were any challenges, he replied:Lots‘. He also received death threats, but that didn’t stop them. He had only one goal and that was to protect manas.
I am very happy when I see that a poacher becomes a protector.
Says Kalen, president of the Manas Moazigendri Eco Tourism Society.
The Manas Moazigendri Eco Tourism Society awards numerous awards for their achievements. Some of them are worth mentioning Anirudh Bhargava INTACH environmental award 2005 and Amrita Devi Bishnoi Wildlife Protection Award 2006,
What are these ex-poachers doing?
The former poachers, who became conservationists, are now responsible for protecting wildlife and the forest. They preserve the habitat by patrolling the woods. In the core areas, the forests are guarded with elephants and the animals in need are saved and protected. The ex-poachers are now getting 6,000 rupees a month. That was more than the amount they would get for poaching.
In the interview, one of the ex-poachers said that today he is proud to stand in front of his children and not be ashamed of how he was when he poached.
How can you help manas?
Ecotourism is the way to help manas and improve the lives of the local Bodo people. There are accommodations, including camps and cottages on the outskirts of Manas. There are many activities such as jeep safaris and forest trekking organized by the Manas Moazigendri Ecotourism Society. They also organize cultural activities such as local singing and dancing.
How to get there?
The Manas Moazigendri Ecotourism Society is located in the Bhuyanpara Range in Manas. It is close to the Kaklabari Central Seed Farm. Manas is about 175 kilometers from Guwahati and the nearest airport is in Guwahati. It takes about 3 hours on the road.
It is absolutely safe to travel to Manas. The resorts and camps in and around the national parks are very safe and protected. I stayed in an accommodation calledSmiling Tusker resort“It’s on the edge of the park. The resort staff are very friendly and looked after us while we were with them.
Today Manas is a perfect example of an extraordinary comeback from the rags to a well-known developing and caring national park in India. It sets a standard for all other national parks across the country. The park has sent positive mood and stories. UNESCO has now removed Manas from the list of dangers and his real name as one of the World Heritage Sites, The national park still has a long way to go to its 1985 status. The change is real and difficult, but it is happening.
To be honest, I always thought that poachers didn’t deserve a second chance. As a nature lover, I hated them because they harmed nature and the forests. I had always read them on the news and seen them on TV. And I had never imagined in my dreams that these people, who killed harmless animals for only a few hundred rupees, could become conservationists. You can be the protector.
I thank Assam Tourism Association and Bodoland Tourism for providing this opportunity and to host me. This was a learning experience for me and this experience gave me the opportunity to change my mind and appreciate the good.
PIN for later reference
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