Starting at sunrise, Manju leads tourists on treks through Bardia National Park in search of tigers, elephants and rhinos. As she walks, she shares her knowledge of the forest’s plants and animals, and the importance of preserving it.
Manju is one of 17 female nature guides trained by ZSL in Nepal. She loves her job – spending each day surrounded by nature, bringing people closer to wildlife, discovering even more about nature herself, and meeting people from different places.
Manju has lived next to the forest all her life and has always loved its animals – but she used to enter it for very different reasons.
As a child she would go there with her mum and grandma in search of firewood and grasses. Many people in her village had to do the same, forced to rely on the forest’s resources with no other way to make money.
Bit by bit the forest and its wildlife shrunk in size.
But now things have changed. With ZSL’s help, the community has become an eco-tourism hub, inviting visitors to experience the rich wilderness of Bardia National Park for themselves.
With new guesthouses, hospitality training, a community fund and – of course – nature guides like Manju, her village now relies on the forest in a very different way from before.
Instead of cutting it down to survive, they now want to protect it.
Although the forest’s value has only started to become apparent to some – for Manju it has, and will always be, a special place.