We are pleased to announce that we have completed our survey of frontline forest guards across the Central Indian Landscape. In total we have spoken at length to over 1,100 frontline rangers from 14 tiger reserves across three states. This study was conducted in association with WCT our partners in India. This is the largest survey of the health needs of frontline staff to date and we are currently analysing this data for a publication later on this year.
The initial results show that rangers are exposed to a wide range of conditions such as malaria , dengue fever , animal attacks and accidents. During this time we spoke to a number of rangers who gave us their story of having being attacked by wildlife or a poacher.
A forest guard from Kanha tiger reserve spoke to us after his ordeal of having being attacked by a sloth bear whilst he was on a routine patrol. Him and and his colleague encountered a sloth bear with cubs. He was charged by the mother bear, and although he tried to fend it off with his bamboo stick he was attacked. The guard suffered severe injuries to his head, face and chest. He lost his scalp and a part of his skull, and sustained a punctured lung. The bear only let him go once the guard thought his only chance of survival was to play dead. He had to walk a few kilometres on foot before he was able to raise the alarm and it was not until two days later that he managed to get to access definitive care. In addition to the physical trauma he sustained, he also had significant psychological trauma as a result of his ordeal. It was not until six months later he was able to return to the field. We have heard many stories like this and one study from Northern India (Gujarat) demonstrated 71 attacks over the period of 2008-09, and another from Central India found 116 attacks between 2004-16. This case report highlights the risks that frontline staff are exposed too and and we have now trained over 1,100 staff to help them deal with these types of situations