WILDLIFE TOURISM: Guides for treks in Mahananda – training the inhabitants of the region as wildlife specialists, now making good ecological sense ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Sept. 10: Foresters will provide guides for tourists visiting the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary that will open on September 16 after a monsoon break.
Nearly 40 youths today took part in the daylong training session organised by the foresters of wildlife division-I at Sukna, 9km from here.
“Unemployed youths from the fringe villages were trained to become tour guides. The objective of taking such an initiative is to help the tourists enjoy their forest trip in an organised manner and also to provide a source of income for the youths of the local villages,” said Tapas Das, the divisional forest officer (wildlife-I).
Villagers from Koklang, Punding, Gulma and Khairani, participated at the training session held at the Nature Interpretation Centre in Sukna.
“Earlier, there was no organised approach from the department to guide the tourists inside the jungle. Now we will engage around 40 guides for the visitors,” Das added.
The trainee guides were told not to allow the tourists to use plastic bags inside the sanctuary, harm animals or pollute the environment by throwing waste.
“We will provide the guides with identity cards and uniforms. They will get remuneration from the visitors for their service,” said Das.
Chandra Tamang, a resident of Punding, who attended the training session, said: “This will not only help us earn money but will also increase our knowledge about the forest and the wildlife.”
Animesh Bose, the programme co-ordinator of Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation, who also attended the session, said: “Such moves always help to keep a pollution-free environment inside the forest, besides creating income opportunities.”