Parveen Kaswan, who did his Master's in Forestry from Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, talks about hidden and rare forest species and the need for collective action towards conservation. He is based in based in Mirzawali Mer village, located in the Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan. He is one of the well-known forest officers in India who captures wildlife behavior on a regular basis. In this interview, he talks about his wildlife encounters during his service.
What are some of the most memorable wildlife encounters you've had?
The forest is sometimes a very calm place. At other times, it is dangerous, although not without adventure. Whenever I encounter a big herd of elephants, it gets imprinted in my memory. Encountering a leopard or a bison herd on a routine tour is a lucky find. Thankfully, I have had many such memorable encounters.
What's the rarest type of wildlife you've seen in the forest? Could you tell us about a close encounter?
The forest is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Among these, my favourite finds are smaller species such as yellow-throated marten, pangolin, Malayan giant squirrel, porcupine, etc. These creatures are rare because of their nature and habitat. Regardless, they are crucial for our ecosystem.
What significant changes in the wildlife populations have you observed in your jurisdiction?
Thankfully, the news seems to be good--the population is increasing. Also, this can be due to better documentation with the help of camera traps etc. The herbivore population is improving now, and with this, the carnivores are also more visible.
What are your thoughts on current conservation efforts? Are they enough to restore the ecosystem balance?
In various ways, conservation efforts are delivering results. But at the same time, we can't say this is enough. The need is to involve everybody in this mission. Everyone should play an active role in conservation efforts through advocacy, awareness, protection, or simply talking about what matters.
Can you share stories about the unique relationships you've observed between different wildlife species?
I have closely observed the social-bonding between elephants. They are highly social and intelligent animals. Elephant herds are made of extended family members. The group comprises aunts, mothers, grandmothers, and sisters who help guide the herd. They are long-ranging animals that help in forest regeneration as they spread the seeds as they move, which is an interesting phenomenon.
What would you consider a personal milestone when it comes to conservation?
In my opinion, this is a field which does not have milestones. Instead, there are small and incremental changes which we can pursue or achieve. As a ranger, I plan to do my part and keep this up for a long time.
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