Trekking the Forests of Himachal
To be a forest guard in Himachal Pradesh means trekking in some of the harshest terrains to document and protect the most vulnerable wildlife. But to me, that is what brings the thrill to my work. A few months back while I was patrolling the forest near Yangla village alone, as I mostly do, I came to learn that a black bear was also roaming the same areas that I had covered. The thought of encountering a bear is a scary one, and I was glad that I didn't cross paths with the animal. At the same time, I was a little disappointed as I did not get the chance to see it.
Being a forest guard takes you to new places, you get to meet new people and experience their culture and history and observe their relationship with wildlife. Lahaul offers a lot of opportunities in this regard with its rich culture and heritage. People here really respect forests and nature and it makes my work more enjoyable.
Since I get to travel a lot, I like to document it all through photographs and wildlife photography, although challenging, it is something that I enjoy a lot.
This photograph of two male ibex resting on a rock was taken by me on March 17, 2020, at Stingari. I was trekking with a senior who told me that if we stay calm and respectful, the ibex will not run away and they will also take interest in us.
Two male ibexes resting; Photo courtesy Tinkle Bhatt
About the Author
Tinkle Bhatt has been associated with the Territorial Wing of the Forest Department in Lahaul for the last five years. She is the third generation serving the Forest Department of Himachal Pradesh in her family. She has a passion for nature and strives towards human-wildlife co-existence in the valley