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A Day In The Life: Experiences From The Pilibhit Tiger Reserve Forest Guards

by Nimisha Tewari 18 Jun 2024

The Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, located in the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttar Pradesh, India, is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including the majestic Bengal tiger. The unsung heroes ensuring the safety and preservation of this vital ecosystem are the forest guards. Their daily routines are filled with challenges, adventures and a deep commitment to conservation. Here’s a glimpse into a day in the life of these dedicated forest guards.

1. Early Morning Patrols

The day for a forest guard at Pilibhit Tiger Reserve starts early, often before dawn.

A. Preparing for the Patrol

  • Equipment Check: Guards gather essential gear, including GPS devices, binoculars, cameras and first aid kits. They also carry the necessary documentation for recording observations and incidents.
  • Briefing Session: A quick briefing with the team leader covers the day's patrol areas, potential threats and recent wildlife movements.

B. Starting the Patrol

  • On Foot or Vehicles: Depending on the area, guards may patrol on foot, bicycles or Jeeps. Walking through dense forests allows for more detailed observation of tracks and signs.
  • Listening to the Jungle: As they move, guards keenly observe their surroundings, listening for alarm calls from animals, which can indicate the presence of predators like tigers or leopards.

2. Monitoring Wildlife and Habitat

A significant part of a forest guard’s duty involves monitoring wildlife and the overall health of the habitat.

A. Tracking Tigers

  • Pugmarks and Scat: Identifying and recording tiger pugmarks and scat helps in tracking their movements and estimating population sizes.
  • Camera Traps: Guards install and maintain camera traps, which capture images of elusive wildlife and help in studying animal behavior and density.

B. Habitat Health

  • Water Sources: Checking the condition of natural water sources ensures that wildlife has access to water, especially during the dry season.
  • Vegetation Monitoring: Observing the health of the vegetation, which is crucial for the survival of herbivores, which in turn support predator populations.

3. Dealing with Threats and Challenges

Forest guards face numerous threats, both from within and outside the reserve.

A. Human-Wildlife Conflict

  • Villager Interaction: Guards often engage with local villagers to mitigate conflicts, such as crop damage by herbivores or livestock predation by big cats. They educate the community on coexistence strategies.
  • Response to Incidents: In cases of emergency, such as a tiger straying into human habitation, guards coordinate with wildlife veterinarians and higher authorities to safely manage the situation.

B. Anti-Poaching Efforts

  • Surveillance: Constant vigilance against poachers is a critical task. Guards conduct surprise checks and set up ambushes in areas vulnerable to poaching.
  • Seizing Illegal Items: Confiscating traps, firearms and other illegal items used for poaching helps protect wildlife.

4. Conservation and Community Engagement

Conservation efforts are not limited to patrolling and monitoring; community engagement plays a vital role.

A. Community Programs

  • Education Initiatives: Guards participate in programs that educate the local communities about the importance of wildlife conservation and sustainable living practices.
  • Livelihood Support: They help in developing alternative livelihood options for villagers to reduce dependency on forest resources.

B. School Visits

  • Awareness Campaigns: Visiting schools to conduct awareness campaigns and interactive sessions with students fosters a culture of conservation from a young age.

5. Evening Duties and Reporting

As the day draws to a close, the focus shifts to compiling data and planning for the next day.

A. Data Compilation

  • Recording Observations: Detailed records of wildlife sightings, tracks and any unusual activity are maintained.
  • Analyzing Patterns: Guards analyze the data to identify patterns and make informed decisions for future patrols and conservation strategies.

B. Preparing for Night Patrols

  • Night Patrols: Some guards continue their duties into the night, as poaching activities often increase after dark. They patrol key areas to deter illegal activities and ensure the safety of nocturnal wildlife.

6. Reflecting on the Day

After a long day, forest guards reflect on their experiences and the impact of their work.

A. Sharing Stories

  • Team Discussions: Sharing stories and experiences with fellow guards fosters camaraderie and collective learning.
  • Personal Reflection: Guards often take a moment to reflect on their connection with the forest and the wildlife they protect.

B. Commitment to the Cause

  • Passion for Conservation: Despite the challenges, their passion for conservation and their love for nature drives them to continue their vital work, day after day.


The life of a forest guard at Pilibhit Tiger Reserve is demanding yet deeply rewarding. Their dedication to preserving the natural heritage and protecting endangered species is commendable. Through early morning patrols, wildlife monitoring, dealing with threats, engaging with the community and nightly vigilance, they play a crucial role in maintaining the delicate balance of this vibrant ecosystem. Their stories of resilience and commitment inspire us to appreciate and support conservation efforts.

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