Women guides on jungle trails in Madhya Pradesh

May 31st, 2011 - 12:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, May 31 (IANS) In a unique initiative, Madhya Pradesh plans to train and employ rural women as guides for tourists in the Kanha National Park in the state.

Thanks to the state’s Eco-Tourism Development Board, there will be women wildlife tour guides greeting visitors at the widely popular national park. The board has plans to recruit 30 women as guides for the park from nearby villages in the Mandla and Balaghat districts for the job, which would certainly be challenging.

“The idea behind the project is to provide job opportunity to rural women. Preference would be given to candidates from 28 relocated villages, then to forest villages and lastly to the buffer zones of the park,” Kanha park director H.S. Negi told IANS.

The project is likley to be introduced during the monsoon season, he said.

The minimum qualification for getting selected for training is higher secondary, according to the director.

“But skills, specially in communication, would be more important,” said A.K. Bhattacharya, chief executive officer of the Eco-Tourism Development Board.

The selected candidates will be given special coaching in languages to help them communicate with tourists, including foreigners.

As a pilot project, the selected candidates will initially be given 15 days of training to make them acquainted with their duties and responsibilities in the park.

Thereafter they would undergo five days of training every three months to update their knowledge and skills.

The women guides will be trained to identify the wild animals and plants and interpret nature. They will be taught the basics of wildlife forensic science and also trained in manners and etiquette, hospitality and time management.

According to the official, experts from the forest and tourism departments will be engaged to train the women guides.

He said the board will spend Rs.4,000 on each guide. Once appointed, the female guides will be paid between Rs.200 to Rs.300 per shift per day.

The Kanha National Park, located in the Banjar and Halon valleys spread across Mandla and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh, is home to one of the largest tiger populations in the country.

If the project succeeds, more women would be inducted in the state’s other national parks, he added.

(Shahnawaz Akhtar can be contacted at shahnawaz.a@ians.in)

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