Guarding the Himalayan biodiversity for 33 years

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Shimla: Like other park rangers, Roshan Chaudhary normally leaves for patrolling in the morning and returns at sunset. And when there is a tip-off on the movement of poachers for several nights at a stretch he has to camp for the conservation of Western Himalayan biodiversity.

His job as a Deputy Ranger was to protect the highly endangered species, ranging from the elusive endangered pheasant western tragopan to the musk deer and the Himalayan tahr in the Great Himalayan National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site in the north-west Himalayas, besides a host of native avifauna and mammals species and a large number of medicinal plants.

Park authorities fear for their vulnerability from poaching from localised settlements in the buffer zone known as an eco-zone. This national park is characterised by high alpine peaks, alpine meadows and riverine forests with minimal tourism impact.

“Human settlements pose the greatest threat to park fauna and flora species, besides illicit felling,” said Chaudhary, the longest serving official who retired on December 31 after serving the park in various capacities for 33 years.

Regarding his most challenging trek in the park, Chaudhary, who joined the park as a forest guard, said it is Shupakuni Pass between two wildlife ranges — Tirthan and Sainj. Normally it takes six-seven days to cover the trek.

“The wild animals rarely attack humans. They attack only when the people disturb them. I have spent nights in their habitat with just a rucksack carrying a raincoat, cap, sleeping bag and an LED torch and they just passed my rucksack without bothering me.” Chaudhary advocated the need to link eco-tourism with the local communities. “If we fail to create awareness on wildlife, we will fail to preserve them for the future generations,” he added.

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