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  • Sumesh Lekhi

A Salute to the Frontline Staff

Sharing of conservation MODELS and STRATEGIES in wildlife MANAGEMENT is crucial for today's Planet EARTH. There is so much research and then groundbreaking work being done by vanguards of wildlife. Strategies that can be SHARED across National Parks, federal STATES and COUNTRIES. That is why in our FILMS-even with EMERALD FOREST-Return & Realm of the Tigers, conservation models and strategies have been an important part of the SCRIPTING, FILMING and presentation process. Even if one organization is able to adopt and benefit from the path-breaking efforts like the iconic efforts at Panna Tiger Reserve and its heroic vanguards, then as filmmakers it is our most endearing REWARD.

"जन समर्थन से बाघ संरक्षण" JAI SHERKHAN JAI HIND Today the conservation world needs to and is increasingly coming together. SYNERGIES IN CONSERVATION are helping protection efforts across the GLOBE, despite huge challenges from industrialization and EXCESSIVE human consumption. Even when our elephant conservation film BASTION OF THE GIANTS was made, elephant researchers were excited about how we were able to bring in conservation elements seamlessly into a wildlife film. It is important that successful on-the-ground work models and research papers are available to forest departments, NGOs and villagers/agriculturists who live and survive around National Parks, so conflict could be reduced. They are the ones who could benefit the most from such valuable work done by researchers and forest teams.

Forest Department grass root FRONT-LINE teams including rangers and guards, are on the ground, in unforgiving terrains and climate conditions. They expose themselves to wildlife and humans that pose a huge risk to the lives of both wildlife and protector. In the fight to conserve threatened wildlife and forests, many forest personnel including rangers and guards have SACRIFICED their lives. Constant and high MOTIVATIONAL levels of these front-line teams are most important for successful operations. The success of PANNA TIGER RESERVE speaks loudly of how, many of the same forest teams from 2009 itself were motivated by officials including Field Director and they then became a part of the heroic history of Panna. We collectively appreciate the great commitment of these ground- level teams.

The appreciation of their work and continuing high motivational levels of front-line forest teams who are also supported by NGO teams is most important for the fight to protect wildlife and educate people around Parks. The lives of VILLAGE AND FOREST COMMUNITIES, both influence and are influenced by wildlife and forest, so they are among the most important stakeholders in conservation. Even after the success, the Panna team and NGOs are constantly engaging with communities so that they integrate into a life that respects wildlife and forests for their own sake. Constant dialogue between different stake holders is most crucial.

Tourism is an important part of wildlife conservation. It sensitizes a large section of folks to wildlife and forests. Most wildlife enthusiasts/ tourists truly take pride in keeping track of wildlife and more eyes looking around are eventually a very good source of wildlife sighting and count feedback to the department. Most tiger reserves maintain a record of the sightings that tourists have had. Wildlife tourism is a good source of revenue for forest departments/state governments as well as with adequate guidelines-supporting the private sector too. Tourism generates employment in large numbers especially for local populations, who then do not have to depend on entering the forests and become guardians of the forests instead.

Photos credit: MP Forest Department/Mr.Deepak Yadav.

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