The world's largest reserve for the endangered great one-horned rhinoceros – Kaziranga – is set to get its first woman field director since its formation as a national park in 1974.
Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Sonali Ghosh, will take over from Jatinder Sarma who is retiring on August 31, 2023. Ghosh, a topper of 2000 batch is currently working as chief conservator of forests ( Research, Education and Working Plan ) in Guwahati.
Sonali is not new to the national park, she had earlier worked in Kaziranga as field manager. But as the field director her challenge will be manifold, especially in curbing poaching of rhinos, whose horns are sold for thousands of dollars in East Asia where they are prized as medicine and jewellery. Last year, no rhino was reported to be killed in the park which is home to 2,200 rhinos – two-third of their world population.
Undisturbed by human presence and with beautiful landscape, the park, filled with elephant-grass meadows, swampy lagoons, and dense forests, has designated as the World Heritage Site in 1985 by UNESCO, a specialised agency of the United Nations aimed at promoting world peace and security.
“The challenge for Ghosh would be to keep up the pressure and maintain the poaching numbers to nil for few years till it becomes the norm,” said a senior official of Kaziranga .
The woman connection of Kaziranga
It is said that a woman has played an important role in formation of Kaziranga, more than a century ago. Baroness Mary Victoria Leiter Curzon, the wife of the then Viceroy, Lord George Nathaniel Curzon, after a visit to this area, asked her husband to take necessary steps to save the rhinos from being wiped out by game hunters and poachers. Soon after that, Kaziranga got the Proposed Reserved Forest tag on June 1, 1905.
Who is Sonali Ghosh?
A proud wild-lifer, Sonali was born in a family with army background. Since her childhood she wanted to pursue a career related to forest and wildlife conservation.
She is strong in academics with post-graduate degree in forestry and wildlife science, a post-graduate diploma in environmental law from the National Law School of India and another one in systems management.
She has also earned a doctorate in remote-sensing technology concerning habitat suitability for tigers in the Indo-Bhutan Manas landscape.
Ram Kumar Kaushik is a seasoned journalist with over 25 years of experience across mediums. The architect of this news website, he is also a consultant with several media groups. He was formerly the group managing editor of ITV Network (NewsX, India News and The Sunday Guardian) and its digital products.