Paying tribute to a fallen tiger guardian

Frontline forest guards risk their lives everyday to protect wildlife across the country.

Jose Louies, Wildlife Trust of India’s Assistant Manager, Enforcement Assistance and Law filed this blog. --VM

Forest guard Rampal Mali was killed in the line of duty by a tiger at Ranthambore National Park the other day.

He is believed to have been killed by one of the most iconic and ferocious tigers of the park, known as “Ustad” or “T-24.”

The incident is tragic for sure, but this is again another reminder that frontline forest guards risk their lives everyday to protect wildlife across the country. One may forget that tigers live safely in our forests only because of these dedicated forest guards.

In the past eight years of working with IFAW-WTI, I have met many who are proud of their duty and happy to be guardians of the wild. They patrol day in and day out through the jungles, ensuring that animals are not poached, trees are not cut and boundaries are not encroached upon.

Tragically they may also get killed by the very animals they protect.

Even if you name the tigers—Ustad, Charger, Prince, Sita or Machhli—they remain tigers. They are not domestic cats nor are they entertainers. They are meant to kill, as that is what is coded in their DNA. These are not cute and cuddly cats in the wild. They are top-end carnivores that can kill prey to survive.

Rampal was insured under IFAW-WTI’s supplementary insurance policy, and we will ensure that financial relief reaches his family as soon as possible.

Sadly, this can never replace the husband, father and a committed Guardian of the Wild Rampal Mali was.

--JL

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