Letter From New Delhi

Protecting the wild and beasts like a queen of the jungle

India's women forest guards display courage in animal rescue even as they fight gender bias

Ms Abharna K.M., an Indian Forest Service officer, has battled patriarchy and poachers since joining the service in 2013. She said she has developed a "thick skin" so she is not bothered by sexist comments or actions.
Ms Abharna K.M., an Indian Forest Service officer, has battled patriarchy and poachers since joining the service in 2013. She said she has developed a "thick skin" so she is not bothered by sexist comments or actions.PHOTO: ABHARNA K.M.
Ms Abharna K.M., an Indian Forest Service officer, has battled patriarchy and poachers since joining the service in 2013. She said she has developed a "thick skin" so she is not bothered by sexist comments or actions.
Ms Abharna K.M., an Indian Forest Service officer, has battled patriarchy and poachers since joining the service in 2013. She said she has developed a "thick skin" so she is not bothered by sexist comments or actions.PHOTO: ABHARNA K.M.

NEW DELHI • Rashila Vadher was among the first women to become forest guards in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2007.

To qualify, she had to pass an arduous fitness test. She ran 800m in less than 4 minutes, jumped farther than 2.7m and leapt almost 1m - feats that many men would find challenging.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 01, 2021, with the headline 'Protecting the wild and beasts like a queen of the jungle'. Subscribe