Written by: Sangay Tenzin, Ranger, Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan
I was born at the base of the Masagang mountain where scattered settlement inhabits the interior virgin forest of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park, Bhutan. I am the third youngest of ten siblings; our father was a subsistence farmer. Throughout my early years, the surrounding atmosphere was pleasant; beautiful green scenery, cool air squeezing through every opening and the sun’s rays peeking through windows. The growling calls of tigers were heard frequently. Sometimes cattle would go missing, a fact that made us afraid to go to the toilet at night.
Once, when I was six years old, I saw a tiger in my village early in the morning and all of a sudden I didn’t feel bad for the killing of our cattle. I was glad to finally see the owner of the loud growling call I had heard so often.
I thought that everywhere in the world had a similar atmosphere to that of my home town, so I committed to staying in my sweet home with the amazing environment and my parents. Soon after I turned six however, my father enrolled me in school in a small town. The environment did not appeal to me with the larger number of people and settlements so I would often bunk lessons. Yet it is my father I have to thank for making me a ranger. Sadly, we lost him when I was fourteen years old and it caused intolerable pain in our family. From then onwards I dedicated my mind to my studies, and it was in the classroom that I first heard the word “Ranger”, and all about their duties. It gave me a flashback to my childhood, in my hometown, and I realised how much I enjoyed seeing wildlife. All of a sudden, I knew I wanted to work in the forest.
I completed school successfully and qualified in the college of natural resources. There I trained for two years in a diploma course on general forestry. On 17th June 2012, I got my placement at Royal Manas National Park. In the heart of forest, I stayed in one of the few houses situated there, and it was here that I met my family-like friends. I wondered if I had ever been to this place before but I realised that I was just thinking back to my stay at home. I have been at Royal Manas ever since.
Whilst patrolling, we have seen a wide variety of plants, smelt the pleasant scent of flowers and listened to the chirping call of birds. Cattle are always scattered here and there, grazing on their pasture and I am fortunate to be one of the wildlife herders. Every day, we observe evidence of different species of wildlife and are eager to see more. Times have changed since my childhood, when I was afraid to go to the toilet alone at night.
We spend days and nights in the forest, camp there and really feel nature. I feel so fortunate to get such a real experience of the natural world. Yet rangers are not in the forest for a retreat and to enjoy themselves. We protect nature not to protect the lives of rangers, but to save the life of every individual on this planet. Worldwide, energetic people become rangers; coming forward to save the forest and to hand it over to the new generation without alteration.