Months after the government announced in March that women could be appointed at the Corbett Tiger Reserve after training, the state of Uttarakhand will deploy women gypsy drivers — referred to as pilots — and nature guides across all tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. Until now, only men have been employed in these positions.
At present, 50 women are being trained to take up these roles in the two tiger reserves, Rajaji Tiger Reserve and Corbett, and six other sanctuaries in the state that boast high populations of tigers, leopards and elephants. The first batch of 21 are currently undergoing training in Dehradun. Speaking to a leading daily, Meenakshi Kumari, a resident of Pauri Garhwal who will soon be deployed as a gypsy pilot in Corbett, said she would derive ‘immense satisfaction’ from the job. “My family has long carried out conservation efforts at a local level, for me, this job would be a natural extension of that legacy.”
Women trainees at the forefront said that they will focus on promoting responsible tourism while others were excited about playing a vital part in defending the ecology of the hills. Harak Singh Rawat, Uttarakhand Forest Minister said, "Women have played a crucial role in conserving forests in Uttarakhand. With these jobs, they can earn a livelihood as well as help the forest department keep an eye on protected areas.”
Notably, two tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh - Kanha Tiger Reserve and Pench Tiger Reserve have a few women guides but no women pilots.