Krishna is from the Tharu tribe, an indigenous people from Nepal.
He lives in the Gavar Valley surrounded by Banke and Bardia national parks. Home to 120 elephants, 50 greater one-horned rhinos and 100 tigers, these forests are one of the most important remaining strongholds for tigers in the world.
Growing up, Krishna’s community relied on the forest for all their needs: food, firewood, roofs for their huts, and grazing for their cattle. Without owning any land, Krishna, his father and brother, were forced into bonded labour, the world’s most common form of slavery, in order to pay rent.
Years later Krishna and his family were freed by the Nepalese government and given land. With few opportunities for employment, many of the young people in the valley were leaving to work in the cities and Middle East. Krishna saw the Tharu culture disappearing just like its forests’ resources.
He started up a guesthouse that, with the help of ZSL, he was able to expand into five, before helping others set up even more, providing jobs for families in the community and bringing nature-tourism into the valley.
By providing hospitality, cooking and nature-guide training, we helped Krishna create over 60 jobs in the guesthouses. Inviting people throughout Nepal to experience Tharu culture and appreciate its amazing wildlife.
Now the community and its young people are being empowered to build futures that help the forest thrive – instead of using up its resources. And the Tharus can preserve their culture while protecting the forest they love.