Upholding Forest Foot Soldiers Protecting Wildlife Along LoC


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January 20, 2017 Neha Bilandani

Upholding Forest Foot Soldiers Protecting Wildlife Along LoC


There are over 15,000 guards on the Line of Control (LoC) to protect forests and wildlife conservation. To manage human conditions, with the involvement of large numbers is a huge challenge. Especially in far flung areas with little or no connectivity.

ICICI Prudential Life and WWF-India have come together to aid the protectors of India’s forests and wildlife. As part of the initiative, ICICI will provide protection to front line protection staff (Forest Guards, Foresters and Range officers as other staff) through ex-gratia funding (with reference to payment done from a sense of moral obligation rather than because of any legal requirement), in the event of their death or permanent disability while on official duty.

The forest staff and their family members are exposed to life threatening dangers such as wild animal attacks, forest fires, weapon injuries inflicted by wildlife poachers, electrocution and deadly diseases such as malaria. Financial security is needed in the events of unforeseen tragedies. The kind of support which will go a long way in ensuring enhanced focus by the frontline protection staff in strengthening protection measures in habitats of iconic and often endangered wildlife.

“The forest guards and other protection staff do a commendable job in protecting India’s forests and wildlife. It is because of them that the ecosystem is safe. They face various challenges and risk their lives while carrying out their everyday duties,” said Sandeep Bakhshi, Managing Director and CEO, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance

The partnership is for three years covering 15,000 staff in 15 states entailing over Rs 1.8 crore.

Assistance will be extended to the frontline staff of 15 forests under WWF-India’s 10 priority landscapes (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala) and provide support to the forest guards.

WWF-India extends support to State Forest Departments, one of its key partners, through a range of interventions. These include conducting wildlife research and monitoring, managing human wildlife conflict and building capacity. This will be done through training programs and providing relevant infrastructure support to improve and strengthen protection measures in important wildlife habitats.

Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF-India, said, “Working in extreme conditions, frontline forest staff are in constant danger while safeguarding our country’s endangered species and wilderness areas. With this initiative we can motivate and aid foot soldiers of India’s forests to create consequential and positive impacts for future generations.”

 

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Neha Bilandani

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