Assam’s Kaziranga National Park is home to greater one-horned rhinoceros or Indian rhino. The species is deemed as vulnerable by World Wildlife Fund. Poaching for the illegal trade of rhino horn remains the biggest threat to the animals.
Forest guards here also face a threat to life from poachers. Fifty-three-year-old Dimbeswar Das, or Dimba, as he is endearingly called, joined Kaziranga as a boatman in 1987. He was later promoted to a guard.
A silent worker with the Assam Forest Department, he has been honoured with the ‘RBS Earth Heroes Award 2019’, under the category of ‘Green Warrior’ by Royal Bank of Scotland, for his exemplary contribution towards protecting the wild in Kaziranga National Park.
The award recognises his almost three decades of “outstanding efforts towards the conservation of the Great Indian One Horned Rhinoceros” in the face of various adversities.
While talking to The Logical Indian, Das expressed his joy on receiving the award. “I am extremely happy to receive the award because ever since I became a guard, I have dedicated my life towards conserving wildlife. I do not do my work to earn money but also because of my love for the wild,” Das says.
The event was in New Delhi on 5th day of November 2019.
I am really thankful to another son of soil Dr. Pranab J Pattar for sharing me about this Achievement.@spsailendra@kaziranga_@mygovassam @airnews_ghy @UNEP @Pijush_hazarika pic.twitter.com/vH2eJjcRpB
— Parimal Suklabaidya (@ParimalSuklaba1) November 6, 2019
Kaziranga is notorious for poaching. Poachers are always on the lookout to sneak into the park to kill rhinos. In the service to the protection of the national asset, Das has survived everything from poachers’ bullets and threats and animal attacks. To evade threats to his family, he had to move houses several times.
“In 2012, I was attacked by poachers. They are dangerous people and do not hesitate to kill you if you come in between them and their poaching plans. I managed to escape, and I would always stay worried about my family’s safety, but the protection of these animals had become one of my top priorities,” Das says.
Das says that Kaziranga is one of the most dangerous and challenging places in the world to be a forest guard. “There have been multiple instances of animal attacks too. I saved several people once after a tiger attacked them while on a forest safari,” he recalls.
“In my nearly 30 years of service, I have seen several people join and leave the job soon after,” he says. Das’s determination to preserve the forest and its flora and fauna has made him stick around for nearly three decades now.