It is a great privilege to announce that I would be part of a noble initiative, where I’m the Photography Mentor for a campaign which involves a “Field Photography Workshop” in Kanha.

This campaign is hosted by Kanha Worker’s society (KWS) in association with Nikon India, chaired by the Kanha Field Director. As a photography mentor, I alongwith the participants would visit one of the most pristine forests of India and teach them the finer nuances of wildlife photography. All proceeds from this campaign will be contributed to the welfare of the Kanha staff through KWS which is essential to improve the lives of people who dedicate a lifetime of heart and soul behind the protection of our natural wealth.

It is a great honor to be part of something as constructive as this and I would like to thank every one involved in making this project successful, especially Mr. Sanjay Shukla- CCF & Field Director Kanha whose undying passion and commitment towards saving wildlife sets high standards of wildlife management in our country.
   
The event is organised by Kanha Workers Society who are doing exemplary work in upliftment of the unsung heroes of the Kanha forest – The silent force of men-n-women protecting our forests. Kanha Workers’ Society has been formed under the MP Cooperative Society Act, 1960 for the welfare of the Kanha staff. Apart from providing the remotely placed wildlife personnel with loans and household essentials, the Society also caters to the needs of the tourists.

Here is a quick brief on Kanha Workers Society and the initiatives that make them the role model for other forest reserves:

One of its own kind in the country, the Kanha Workers Sahkari Sakh evam Kamgar Samiti Maryadit, Kisli (Kanha Worker’s Society) was formed under the Society Act, 1960 for the welfare of the Kanha staff and is working since 1991. Every serving individual of the Tiger Reserve, including daily wagers, are the members of this Society. The members have to pay annual membership fees of the Society. As service conditions, specially in the national park, are very difficult, and most are non-family postings to remotely located patrolling camps, the staff sometimes has to go 15–20 km. for weekly market to buy household goods. The Society provides the remotely placed wildlife personnel with the essentials of the household at concessional prices. The Society also gives almost interest free soft-loans to the frontline staff and daily wagers on easy installments. In the last two years this society got the health insurance cover for all the field staff and the insurance premium amount of Rs 12.00 lacs approx was self-funded and paid by the society. This year society has gone into arrangement with Hospitals at Nagpur and Jabalpur for cashless treatment of all the society members. The cost would be borne by the society.
Recently this society brought out a coffee table book and the profit from it’s sale will go for the welfare of staff. One photography workshop is also being organized by the society and it’s proceeds will also go to the welfare of frontline staff.
The Society also caters to the needs of tourists at Khatia and Mukki entry points and at Kanha Centre Point of the tiger reserve. It makes arrangements for breakfast, meals and basic daily needs on payment basis at these points.Through its Eco Shops, the Society also deals in mementos and other reminiscences of the tiger reserve, which include: t-shirts, caps, key rings, winter jackets, scarves, silver jewelry, badges, stickers, cards, posters, the Kanha literature etc. Presently, the total asset with the Society is Rs. 2.37 crore as fixed deposits and loans to the staff. There is already a code of by-laws to ensure the timely elections of office bearers, holding of meetings, auditing of the Society’s account, membership fees and other related issues.
Many other tiger reserves have shown interest in this model and are in the process of initiating this for the welfare of their staff.
One such initiative of the Society is organizing a photo workshop and competition under the leadership of Mr Shukla. The proceeds from this event goes towards the welfare of frontline staff. It is also heartening to see that Nikon recognizes and supports such noble ideas.

As for participants, It is a win win situation – you get to stay in a forest rest house, explore Kanha in its full splendor, learn new skills and feel satisfied that the workshop fees goes into conservation efforts through KWS. We wish all the very best to Kanha Workers Society and hope they go strength to strength, continue with the great work and launch many such initiatives.

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