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Uttarakhand: Rajaji Tiger Reserve Range Officer Mahinder Giri bags International Ranger Award

Mahinder Giri, a range officer who has been deployed at Motichur rangeof Rajaji Tiger Reserve (RTR) for the past few years, has become the only ranger from Asia to win the prestigious International Ranger Award. The award has been announced for 10 professionals across the globe by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), “based on their contribution towards conservation”.

According to Giri’s seniors, he won the award for his efforts in curbing human-wildlife conflict in and around  Rajaji and his role in the ongoing tiger translocation exercise from  Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) to RTR. A total of 113 nominations of 630 forest staffers from 43 different countries were submitted, and Giri emerged as the only winner from Asia. Other winners were from Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe.

All the winners will receive a uniform patch and their employing organisations will receive US $10,000 (Rs 7,26,150) as prize money, which can be used to “support the winner and their team to conduct their work”. “This can include purchasing essential supplies or equipment, providing training, providing insurance, supporting the family of a deceased ranger, or other ranger welfare activities” said a communique released by  World Wide Fund for Nature (WW).

The award was created in 2020 by IUCN and WCPA in collaboration with International Ranger Federation, Global Wildlife Conservation, and Conservation Allies.

A resident of Bahadarabad village, Haridwar, Giri became an employee of the forest department in his early twenties. In 1996, his father, Rameshwar Dayal Giri, a forest guard at Motichur range, was trampled to death by an elephant while on duty. The next year, Giri, a high school pass out, got the job on compensatory grounds. Now in his early 50s, around the same age that his father died, Giri said he is overjoyed to receive international recognition. “By conserving the forests, we are actually saving human lives, not just animals or trees. That’s why I have dedicated my life to the cause of conservation,” he said.

2017, Giri became the first person to single-handedly man the newly-formed tiger monitoring unit of western Rajaji. The unit now employs 23 workers who look after the seven ranges of western Rajaji – Kansro, Ramgarh, Dhaulkhand, Beriwada and Haridwar forest ranges.

JS Suhag, chief wildlife warden, Uttarakhand forest department, said that Giri was always keen on minimising human-wildlife conflict by educating the stakeholders. “He would go the extra mile to counsel villagers on anti-poaching measures, how to interpret pug marks etc. He would also conduct workshops for contractual workers,” Suhag said.

The tiger translocation exercise from CTR to RTR reached fruition after eight years’ efforts and Giri played a key role in the success, said Suhag. “Giri personally scans footage of 285 cameras placed across RTR on a regular basis. He monitors the movement of tigers and ensures their safety from anti-forest elements,” Suhag said.

For his efforts, Giri has in the past received multiple appreciation certificates and state-level recognitions as well, the chief wildlife warden said.

Prakash Javadekar congratulates Mahinder Giri for winning International Ranger Award

Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has congratulated Mahinder Giri, range officer of Rajaji Tiger Reserve for being the only ranger from Asia to win the prestigious International Ranger Award for his contribution towards conservation.

The award has been announced for 10 professionals across the world by the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN and World Commission on Protected Areas WCPA.

Developed through a collaboration between the IUCN WCPA, the International Ranger Federation, Global Wildlife Conservation, and Conservation Allies, these awards, created in 2020, aim to highlight and felicitate the extraordinary work that rangers do in protected and conserved areas worldwide.

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