The first set of seven women nature guides of Corbett Tiger Reserve have won over tourists in their stint working as tour guides in less than a month period. Challenges at professional and personal level do exist for these ladies. Despite all odds, these tiger ladies of Corbett are steadily finding their anchorage in the job that was primarily held by men in these jungles so far.
Corbett Tiger Reserve appointed female nature guides for the first time this year, as an attempt to bring gender equality in the wildlife tourism sector and the guides have received a mixed response. Urmila Belwal, 28-year-old nature guide posted at Garjiya gate of Corbett, said that working as a nature guide is an enriching experience but comes at the cost of her 8-year-old son staying with relatives without his parents. On extending further, she said that along with other nature guides, has to manage transportation and travel in groups as they cross patches of forests while going for work covering around 12-15 kilometres from her village.
“Every job has an occupational hazard and ours is crossing through forests with the constant fear of being attacked by animals. But we have grown up living around wild animals so we can manage that. We are five women who usually travel together so that our families also do not worry,” she added. Rahul, director of Corbett Tiger Reserve, said that the efforts of women nature guides are praised by many, especially all-female group tourists, but the officials are also working to solve their problems. 488 candidates had appeared in the guide recruitment test held in October 2020 at Ramnagar of which 102 were women. A total of 67 candidates cleared the test, including this set of seven women.