In a first, the UNESCO World Heritage site Sundarbans Tiger Reserves West Bengal appointed women tourist guides. The national reserve is known for globally endangered species the Royal Bengal Tiger.
The four women belonging to different villages on the island of Sundarbans underwent training along with their male peers. The training was organised by the National Reserve in collaboration with an NGO. Tapas Das, the Sundarban Tiger Reserve (STR) Field Director reportedly said that the inclusion of women should have happened much earlier.
The women have also been handled responsible duties. Some of their duties include explaining the significance of Mangroves and the dangers of plastic usage to the tourists.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Sumana Mondal, a 22 year old and one of the young women guides expressed her confidence in being able to make the trip remarkable for the tourists regardless of spotting a Tiger. She added, “Sundarbans is widely known for the Bengal Tigers but the aim is to also draw attention to other species such as the Irrawaddy Dolphins, Saltwater Crocodile and Mangrove Horseshoe Crab.”
Borne with a new responsibility, Bhaswati Kamila Sarkar who is a resident of a village on the same island and also one of the women guides told Hindustan Times, “If a woman can become a pilot, drive a train why can’t I be a tourist guide in the Sundarbans?
“Tourists often visit my village and I get to interact with them. So when I heard that the forest department was looking for female guides I opted for it. This will also make me self-dependent and I can earn something for my family” she added.
As announced by the State Government, the Sundarbans will open for tourists from October1 this year, the four women will also be seen in action.
Feature Image Credits: Hindustan Times