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Forest ranger turns one-time timber smugglers into eco-warriors

By Dibya J Borthakur
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RAHA, July 15 - Fighting ceaselessly for preservation of the green cover and the creatures that live in them is a difficult and uphill task even with the backing of the government machinery.

But Sanjib Bordoloi, Range Officer of Dharamtul Western Forest Range here has never let his guard down.

Armed with just 5 rifles, 2 vehicles and a team of 8 forest guards under his capacity, Bordoloi treks several miles every day to the sal and teak wood forest that surrounds their office. Their mission: To save the forest from being plundered and denuded by the well-oiled forest mafia.

Since the last one-and-a-half years, the officer has often gone beyond his call of duty to protect wildlife in the forests under his charge, working tirelessly to tackle threats such as poaching and smuggling.

In the Sunakushi, Khulahat, Borbori, Dhuadoloni and Killing reserve forests under Western Forest Range of Dharamtul, timber smugglers and poachers found themselves in an uncomfortable position as the ranger under reference busted more than 50 smuggling rackets under his range.

Earlier, these reserve forests witnessed umpteen attempts to poach wildlife and smuggle valuable forest resources. But since Bordoloi joined the range in 2019, he has managed to compel many poachers to surrender, besides busting several timber smuggling rackets.

Pointing out how the timber mafia was exploiting the reserve forest, Bordoloi told ANN Service that he was initially bewildered by the passive response of the nearby villagers of the reserve forest on their habitat being slowly destroyed.

�I subsequently spoke to the villagers and also held meetings with them on several occasions till I finally managed to convince them that we needed to collectively protect our beautiful forests and their faunal treasures,� he said.

Gradually, Bordoloi along with his team started visiting the surrounding villages with an aim to educate the villagers about the importance of trees in their lives. He also began roping in locals for various conservation projects.

�My aim was to make them understand that preserving the forests was for their own good. Earlier, they would poach wild deer and often smuggled timber. After roping them in for our conservation projects, instead of killing deer for venison or smuggling timber out of the forest, they on the contrary, report it to us,� he explained.

With time, many locals, especially the villagers of Gegera Tongia village also became part of his campaign against deforestation, but most of the effort has continued to be centred around timber smugglers, said Bordoloi.

There were many daunting challenges that came their way, but their single-minded dedication and assistance from Amsoi forest beat officer Mukuta Barman towards their cause has kept them going.

�Initially, there were too many altercations with the village people. Many scuffles with the mafia too became commonplace. However, I told my team that in this journey we would come across both good and bad times, but we have to struggle if we were to keep the forest,� said the ranger.

As of now, Bordoloi and his team has managed to seize a huge consignment of illicit hand-sawn sal and teak timber valued at approximately Rs 3 lakh. In addition, the team busted 20 hideouts of smugglers in the area.

It may perhaps be pertinent to mention here that the ranger, in a reformatory move, has often engaged the surrendered one-time smugglers and poachers as daily wagers whenever there is a plantation drive or any other forest work.

Over the years, Bordoloi has also helped many poor people, patients and schoolchildren for which the local people try to return the favour and love to him by joining hands to protect the valuable forest wealth and its prized denizens.

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Forest ranger turns one-time timber smugglers into eco-warriors

RAHA, July 15 - Fighting ceaselessly for preservation of the green cover and the creatures that live in them is a difficult and uphill task even with the backing of the government machinery.

But Sanjib Bordoloi, Range Officer of Dharamtul Western Forest Range here has never let his guard down.

Armed with just 5 rifles, 2 vehicles and a team of 8 forest guards under his capacity, Bordoloi treks several miles every day to the sal and teak wood forest that surrounds their office. Their mission: To save the forest from being plundered and denuded by the well-oiled forest mafia.

Since the last one-and-a-half years, the officer has often gone beyond his call of duty to protect wildlife in the forests under his charge, working tirelessly to tackle threats such as poaching and smuggling.

In the Sunakushi, Khulahat, Borbori, Dhuadoloni and Killing reserve forests under Western Forest Range of Dharamtul, timber smugglers and poachers found themselves in an uncomfortable position as the ranger under reference busted more than 50 smuggling rackets under his range.

Earlier, these reserve forests witnessed umpteen attempts to poach wildlife and smuggle valuable forest resources. But since Bordoloi joined the range in 2019, he has managed to compel many poachers to surrender, besides busting several timber smuggling rackets.

Pointing out how the timber mafia was exploiting the reserve forest, Bordoloi told ANN Service that he was initially bewildered by the passive response of the nearby villagers of the reserve forest on their habitat being slowly destroyed.

�I subsequently spoke to the villagers and also held meetings with them on several occasions till I finally managed to convince them that we needed to collectively protect our beautiful forests and their faunal treasures,� he said.

Gradually, Bordoloi along with his team started visiting the surrounding villages with an aim to educate the villagers about the importance of trees in their lives. He also began roping in locals for various conservation projects.

�My aim was to make them understand that preserving the forests was for their own good. Earlier, they would poach wild deer and often smuggled timber. After roping them in for our conservation projects, instead of killing deer for venison or smuggling timber out of the forest, they on the contrary, report it to us,� he explained.

With time, many locals, especially the villagers of Gegera Tongia village also became part of his campaign against deforestation, but most of the effort has continued to be centred around timber smugglers, said Bordoloi.

There were many daunting challenges that came their way, but their single-minded dedication and assistance from Amsoi forest beat officer Mukuta Barman towards their cause has kept them going.

�Initially, there were too many altercations with the village people. Many scuffles with the mafia too became commonplace. However, I told my team that in this journey we would come across both good and bad times, but we have to struggle if we were to keep the forest,� said the ranger.

As of now, Bordoloi and his team has managed to seize a huge consignment of illicit hand-sawn sal and teak timber valued at approximately Rs 3 lakh. In addition, the team busted 20 hideouts of smugglers in the area.

It may perhaps be pertinent to mention here that the ranger, in a reformatory move, has often engaged the surrendered one-time smugglers and poachers as daily wagers whenever there is a plantation drive or any other forest work.

Over the years, Bordoloi has also helped many poor people, patients and schoolchildren for which the local people try to return the favour and love to him by joining hands to protect the valuable forest wealth and its prized denizens.

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