Courage, a WWF criterion

Courage, a WWF criterion

- Girls put abduction behind them to head for new project


Guwahati, March 18: Wildlife conservation is certainly not for the chicken-hearted, WWF volunteers Tarali Goswami and Shrabana Goswami have proved.

A little over a month after being abducted at gunpoint from Chirang reserve forest during a tiger census, and released after a 48-hour ordeal, the girls are packing their bags again — this time to head for a two month tiger  project in Arunachal Pradesh — undaunted by the risks they had faced.

The two were part of the six-member group kidnapped on February 6, are scheduled to leave on Monday.

While Tarali, Shrabana and their friend Pallabi Chakraborty were released after two days, the three boys in the team were freed after lengthy negotiations.

“These things (incidents) can’t dampen our spirit, physically and mentally,” Pallabi had said after being released.

Tarali and Shrabana have proved Pallabi right.

The two girls, along with David Smith — who was part of the Chirang reserve forest group but escaped abduction — will now spot tigers in the picturesque high-altitude Zemithang valley of Tawang.

The rest of the group is involved in data entry at the office of WWF North Bank Landscape Programme at Tezpur and will be deployed elsewhere.

“We are determined and we should not be afraid. Incidents do happen but the spirit to do work should guide us,” Tarali said.

“We also have a lot of support from our parents,” she added.

Smith, who is from Tenga area of Arunachal Pradesh, is looking forward to the adventure of sighting tigers in Zemithang.

“Our seniors at WWF have helped us a lot in overcoming the tensions. The love of nature has helped us to go ahead,” he said.

Shrabana, too, looked geared up for the project.

“The incident (abduction) was an accident and accidents do happen,” said Shrabana, adding she was prepared to climb to the high-altitude Zemithang.

The area where the youths will be working is between 3,000-6,000 feet and borders Bhutan.

The WWF is happy that the youths have been able to put the abduction behind them.

“They are very young but have not taken this incident negatively. The best part is that they have seen it as a part of life,” said Anupam Sarmah, senior coordinator, North Bank Landscape Programme, WWF India.

The tiger estimation project in Zemithang is being undertaken after villagers informed of tiger presence.

This is also the first place outside a protected area where a survey is being carried out. “We have prepared maps of the places where the tigers are expected to be sighted. We will try to get some signs and once confirmed, we will go for camera trapping,” the official said.

The Arunachal Pradesh forest department is providing all the support required for tiger estimation.

“They are very keen to see the tiger estimation being done in their state,” the official said.

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