New Delhi: Frontline workers have always played a vital if unsung role. Whether in the hospitals fighting the pandemic and saving human lives or deep in the forests protecting wildlife and habitats.
The efforts put in by the field level forest staff often go unrecognized. Many of us see and appreciate the natural areas like forest and wetlands and even increase in wildlife numbers. However, we often miss the fact that these areas and species have been conserved due to the efforts of forest department staff who have tirelessly been protecting and managing these areas. Along with state forest departments, WWF India is working continuously to provide support to these often invisible foot soldiers through capacity building and providing relevant technical and infrastructure support. With the aim to appreciate the efforts of these unsung heroes, WWF India welcomes Upasna Kamineni, Director Apollo Hospitals, as “Ambassador of Forest Frontline Heroes.” The focus of this will be on several states across the country covering most eco-regions.
Upasna Kamineni shares her thoughts on taking on the new role, “I have been on the side where frontline workers in the hospitals are tirelessly working to save lives. On the other hand, the forest field staff often work night and day in extreme conditions such as scorching heat and biting cold and torrential rains. On average, they walk up to 15–20 km a day to patrol the forests, facing the dangers of encountering wild animals or poachers. I am committed as WWF India’s ‘Ambassador of Forest Frontline Heroes’ to support and draw attention towards the people who are the pillars of nature and wildlife conservation.”
The job of a forest guard involves patrolling vast swathes of often-inhospitable terrain with minimum protection or equipment. They have hardly any access to emergency medical facilities if any severe mishaps or illnesses are suffered in the line of duty. The 24/7 job of frontline personnel is pivotal to conservation efforts to pull off some of India’s greatest conservation stories.
Dr. Dipankar Ghose, Director Wildlife and Habitat programme, WWF India, said, said,”Forest Department field staff constitute the foundation of wildlife conservation in the Protected Areas and Reserve Forests. Frontline forest staff are often local community members themselves and play an important role in building an interface between communities and conservation. WWF India works closely with the field staff for their capacity building and to ameliorate their hardships inside the forests. We are thankful to Ms. Upasna Kamineni for lending her support to the cause and highlighting the contribution of forest department field staff.”