Managing human-animal conflicts: Mysuru’s women Forest Officers lead the way
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Managing human-animal conflicts: Mysuru’s women Forest Officers lead the way

April 3, 2024

By M.T. Yogesh Kumar

Women, who are demonstrating their accomplishments across diverse fields, much like aiming for the stars, are now delving into the Forest Department, actively participating in initiatives for forest conservation. Under the leadership of Conservator of Forests (CF), Mysuru Circle Dr. Malathi Priya, they are not only meeting but also exceeding the duties outlined by the Department, displaying a level of commitment that surpasses expectations.

The influx of women joining the Forest Department, renowned for its challenges and ongoing human-animal conflicts, is rising. Inspired by seasoned female leaders within the Department, fresh faces are stepping up to contribute.

These women officials help rural communities manage human-wildlife conflict and have helped create awareness for managing human-leopard conflict in the Mysuru region.

Over the years, women officials entrenched within the Department have consistently upheld the trust vested in them by diligently fulfilling their assigned responsibilities.

Dhanyashree, currently serving as the Range Forest Officer (RFO) of the Mysuru Greening Division within the Forest Department, shared that she successfully cleared the RFO exam in 2016 and commenced her service with the Department.

“Having pursued a B.Sc. degree in Forestry, I am deeply grateful for the unwavering support of my parents. Women encounter challenges across all sectors, yet with the backing of senior officials, colleagues and family members, they can excel in their roles. Joining the Forest Department entails significant responsibilities, such as wildlife conservation and forest protection. Women must take the lead in joining such endeavours. Witnessing the protected forest land and the growth of trees planted during our service period brings  immense satisfaction.”

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Furthermore, amid the ongoing conflict between humans and wildlife, particularly in areas where farmers and the Department vie for control over forest lands, women officers are playing a commendable role.

They are actively engaging in conflict resolution efforts, often working in the heart of these conflict zones, and their efforts have garnered praise. Particularly in the Mysuru region, the significant participation of numerous female officials within the Forest Department is noteworthy, she added.

Pooja Yaligar, currently serving as the Range Forest Officer (RFO) of H.D. Kote, originally from Bailahongal in Belagavi district, shared, “After joining the Forest Department in 2019 and undergoing training in Uttarakhand, I have previously served as an RFO in Mysuru and now in H.D. Kote. Throughout my journey, my parents have been unwavering in their support and encouragement, enabling me to pursue a degree in B.Sc. Forestry. Regardless of the field or Department, success is attainable through unwavering dedication to one’s work. With determination, no task is insurmountable. However, working in the field within the Department requires extra caution at times.”

M.R. Rashmi, currently serving as the Range Forest Officer (RFO) of KR Nagar, expressed, “I have dedicated 17 years of service to the Forest Department. In a society predominantly dominated by men, there are often doubts raised about the capabilities of women. However, the Department has consistently provided equal opportunities and wholeheartedly encouraged us in every aspect. Nature itself knows no gender bias.”

“Duty remains consistent for all. We adhere to the regulations set forth by the Department. Our efforts have been focused on fostering harmony between farmers and wildlife, working diligently to encourage coexistence. Addressing the challenges of safeguarding forest lands, resolving disputes between farmers and the Department, and managing human-wildlife conflicts are indeed demanding tasks. Preserving forest areas and protecting wildlife are crucial endeavours, albeit challenging. The significance of forest conservation will only grow in the future, as clean air and drinking water become increasingly vital,” she emphasised.


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